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Nov 24, 2011
Do you hear that faint wailing in the background? That's the sound of a thousand bank accounts going "noooo!" at the appearance of the Autumn Steam Sale. Thankfully for our wallets, it only lasts until Sunday, with dozens of new deals every day. Consider it a warm up for the monolithic Steam Christmas sale next month.
The sale kicked off yesterday, but you've still got six hours to grab some of the fantastic day one deals. The marvellous Orcs Must Die is just £2.99 / $3.74 (we gave it a score of 90 in our Orcs Must Die review). Portal 2 is selling for just £6.79 / $10.19. If you haven't played Mass Effect yet, the first game is £2.49 / $4.99, and Mass Effect 2 is 75% off at £4.99 / $12.49.
If you're more partial to an arcade explodathon starring Gordon Freeman, Renegade Ops is £4.99 / $7.49 (or you can grab a four pack for £9.99 / $14.99). All of Dejobaan's games are also on sale as well, including AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! for the Awesome.
These games are also on sale for the next few hours:
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Duke Nukem Forever
Test Drive Unlimited 2
Sam & Max series
Men of War series
These deals will switch out in 5 hours and 42 minutes from the time of writing. Keep an eye on the Steam front page for the next set of deals then.
Nov 15, 2011
Remember the Call of Duty social network, matchmaking and stat-tracking service, Call of Duty Elite? The one that was available on Xbox and PS3 at Modern Warfare 3's launch? The one that Activision described as a "necessity" for games? It might not make it to PC.
Beachhead Studio head Chacko Sonny implied that we were getting it a few weeks ago, abeit later than the console kids: “We’re as committed as ever to the PC, but the need to ensure a safe PC environment is greater than ever,” he said. “It’s really extensive. We need more time to get there, so Elite on PC will not launch on Day 1. We’re working our butts off to make it happen, but we won’t release it until we know that PC gamers can enjoy Elite as it’s meant to be.”
It seems the situation has changed. As Eurogamer spotted on the official Call of Duty Elite Twitter feed, we might not be getting the service at all. EVER.
"We are working towards a universal Elite experience but we cannot guarantee if or when a version will be available for the PC," read a tweet posted a few hours ago. The "if" makes me suspicious.
Call of Duty Elite's console launch has been plagued with technical issues and users have even been given 30 days free use of the service to compensate. We were told that the PC version of Elite wouldn't require a subscription fee. We were also told that we'd be testing it around now. And that it would eventually get released on PC, hence all the coverage. I don't know who to believe any more.
Nov 15, 2011
We didn't like Black Ops as much as Modern Warfare 3 but didn't hate it either, awarding Treyarch's game with a solid 64% Not that it mattered though. Black Ops sold more copies in its first week than the superior Modern Warfare 3, which we liked a whole 15% more. Graham even described Infinity Ward's game as "fun."
David Vonderhaar, game design director at Treyarch has admitted that he regrets some of Black Ops features. In particular, he doesn't like the Second Chance Perk that let's downed players pull out a pistol and take a few pot shots before respawning. A more advanced version of the perk even let friendlies revive each other. It looked cool but broke the game for competitive play.
Last night, Sticktwiddlers spotted this tweet from Vonderhaar: "See that gun to my head in my pic? That's how I feel about 2nd Chance. We meant well. I fucked up. Enough spam. Goodnight.
Nov 14, 2011
Modern Warfare 3 publishers Activision have been banging on about how their latest face-shooter has made more money than the GDP of a small country - but it seems it’s shifted fewer units than its predecessor, Call of Duty: Black Ops.
According to Eurogamer, Modern Warfare 3 has sold “just under” two million copies in the UK - 1.6 per cent less than Black Ops sold last year. Despite selling fewer units, Modern Warfare 3 has somehow made more money for Activision, bringing in £83.1 million for the uber publisher - 15 per cent more than Black Ops.
It also seems that these figures only account for PS3 and Xbox 360 copies of the game, so it’s unknown how much Activision have made from PC copies of the game - the majority of which are presumably downloads via Steam. We’re guessing many, many millions more though.
As reported on IGN, Studio head of Sledgehammer Games, Glen Schofield isn't happy with the way Modern Warfare 3 is getting treated on Metacritic.
It's currently got a metacritic of 82. That's a reasonable average, sitting just above our Modern Warfare 3 review score.
Glen was more upset by the user rating (formed by the public, not critics). At the time it was sitting at 1.7. Metacritic's users were making a statement. Not necessarily a truthful statement, but a statement nonetheless.
Schofield wasn't happy about this, so he hit his twitter feed and posted: "I don't usually do this but, if u like MW3 go 2 Metacritic.com & help our user score. It's suspiciously low. Be honest but help if u agree."
He's since deleted the tweet. Probably because it got him into trouble. Later on, after some negative feedback and accusations unfair boosting, he attempted to justify his original comments by posting that he "know it's better than a 1.7."
It seems the users agree; Modern Warfare 3's user rating currently stands at 1.8.
Nov 12, 2011
I remember storming the beaches of Normandy five years ago in one of CoD 2’s most tense and memorable levels. Yesterday in Black Ops I shot a zombie on the moon with a gun that made it vomit blood then explode. What the hell has happened to Call of Duty?
Whatever our memories of the shooter series, the zombie survival mode introduced by Treyarch in World at War has frequently been the best part of the regular Call of Duty: Black Ops packs. It follows, then, that a DLC pack made up of five zombie levels should be the best. It is, but not by much.
Moon is the centrepiece. You and three friends start out in a facility in Area 51, with zombies rising from the mud around you. Every few minutes a horn will sound and the zombies become faster and more powerful. Anyone frustrated by the boredom of the first few waves of a zombie map will greatly prefer this frantic opening. Within two minutes, the swarms will force you to take the cackling teleporter to the lunar surface.
You’ll find yourself in low gravity, gasping for air. Snatching an HEV mask will give you oxygen and eerily mute the sound of gunfire and incoming zombies. Like all of Black Ops’ zombie maps, you must use the points you’ve gained popping zombies to open doors to new parts of the level. Your first task is to turn on the power generator to restore gravity and oxygen to the warren of creepy moon-base corridors. If you fight deep enough into the facility you’ll get the wave gun that cooks zombies inside out. Restoring power also enables you to tear off your HEV mask so you can hear where the zombies are coming from, but it can be more fun to stay outside where a shotgun blast can send a nearby zombie flying into space. Low gravity is brilliant.
The other four maps aren’t so inventive. They’re almost identical versions of the four World at War zombie maps that Black Ops limited edition owners have been playing for months, with some upgraded lighting and slightly reshuffled weapons. The basic ruined house of Nacht der Untoten and the gloomy swamps of Shi No Numa represent the Zombies mode in its most skeletal and boring form. The huge Tesla coils of the experimental Nazi facility in Der Reise are more fun, but the real star of the resurrected maps is Verrückt . This splits your squad of four into two teams who must fight through a building to reunite, shooting zombies off each other’s backs across a large central square.
It’s telling that of all the Black Ops DLC packs the most worthwhile is 80% recycled material. Rezurrection is the best of a miserable bunch. Moon is good, but not £11.50 good, and it all seems moot when you can shell out an extra £2.50 and get Left 4 Dead 2 or Killing Floor for some more substantial, meatier zombie slaying.
In case we'd forgotten how mind numbingly huge Call of Duty is, last night's Activision earnings call dropped some massive sales figures to jog our memories. Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg announced that Modern Warfare 3 "drove the largest day one shipments in our history and in the industry's history."
That follows the fact that "Pre-orders for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 outpaced pre-orders for Call of Duty: Black Ops by a wide margin, setting a new industry record in making it the most pre-ordered game of all time."
The continued success of Black Ops is even more surprising. On the same call, Activision last night revealed that they've 20 million Black Ops expansion packs, at £11.50 each. That's a cool £230 million in sales. "The revenues generated from map packs alone would make it the third largest console title of the year," said Hirshberg.
Activision announce that they made $148 million this year between July and September, up from $51 million last year. There was no mention in the conference call of enormous money hats or swimming pools filled with gold bullion, but Activision did announce that they plan to make more money next year, with even more map packs for Modern Warfare 3. Now I have to go and grab a cup of tea and stop trying to imagine what $148 million looks like in dollar bill form.
UPDATE: Graham has just posted his first impressions of Modern Warfare 3 on PC.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is out, and you'll see Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 reviews appearing all over the place. We don't have a review yet because we haven't had access to the PC version until the game was officially released. We did get a copy this morning, but it was for the Xbox 360. :(
So Graham went and bought a copy this morning. He's playing it for review right now.
The copy Graham bought this morning is the first we've seen of PC code. The PC version hasn't been shown at any preview events and the videos and screenshots have all come from console versions. The console mags in our building all got early access to console versions of the game, but the PC has been mysteriously absent. The Call of Duty Elite service that console players can use to track stats and stay in touch with friends has been delayed on PC, too.
Still, it's in shops, unlocked on Steam and we're getting stuck in right now. We'll bring you our impressions and our full review once we've had a chance to play it properly.
Are you playing Modern Warfare 3? What do you think so far?
Update: Activision's UK PR team have been in touch and have explained that the Xbox 360 copy was a bit of a mixup. They feel sad and have sent their apologies. Poor sad PR team. Everyone send cuddles.
VentureBeat have been speaking to Bret Robins - creative director on Modern Warfare 3.
Bret worked on the single player portion of Modern Warfare 3, due for worldwide release on Steam at midnight tonight. When asked how Sledgehammer deal with such a sensitive matter as World War III, he said: "You blow up a lot of cities, is what you do. We’re creating a huge, like a summer blockbuster story and experience. You try to go for the biggest and craziest moments and set-pieces and locations you can come up with. You try to do it in a very believable and authentic way, so it feels like this could actually happen."
He was also asked how the studio manage to create a story that's controversial, but not controversial enough to get banned or censored. It seems to be something Bret has considered in some depth.
"Without getting sued by everyone? Yeah. Very carefully, is how you do it. How do you go about blowing up the world? You just come up with scenes and moments that would make sense within the story. So you don’t do it just for the sake of blowing everything up, just for the fun of it. Does this make sense? Should the characters actually be here at this time? Does this fit the plot? You want it to be exciting, but you also want it to make sense. It can’t just be gratuitous, it can’t just be fantasy. It needs to be real missions, things that you think could possibly happen, given the extraordinary circumstances that you’re creating. So it’s always walking that fine line of believability and insanity and crazy action."
The creative director insists that the studio don't attempt to cause controversy for the sake of it but strive for originality, not gratuitous shocks: "What you don’t do is say: "we’re just doing this to top ourselves." Like you say: "it needs to be something that’s authentic, that actually moves the plot forward." We have some moments in the game that I think are pretty shocking, that push the envelope a little bit. But like I said before, it’s not a matter of trying to be gratuitous about it, doing shocks for shock value. You always want to push yourself and see if you can push the limits of the medium, and storytelling. We’ve got such a big audience for this game that we want to deliver something that’s memorable. Experiences that people are going to be talking about the next day after they played it, talking about with their friends. It’s really a matter of creating something unique."
We recently covered a controversial scene in Modern Warfare 3, which featured lots of pigeons getting massacred, along with the death of a child. The footage has now been taken down from YouTube, but we're sure you'll see plenty of it on the internet over the next few days, so don't worry too much.
Modern Warfare 3 is due for release this evening. And, although we'd love to get our review online for the embargo date, Activision are yet to send us review code. The console versions of Modern Warfare 3 have been shown off at recent events around the world, but the PC version has remained aloof.
Still, Graham will be playing at midnight tonight, and reporting his first impressions as soon as his fingers can type them. Until then, check out the launch trailer, embedded below.
The new live action Modern Warfare 3 trailer shows a rare event. A veteran helping out a new player without telling him to GTFO. The prestiged pro makes it through the entire trailer without once saying anything even vaguely unpleasant about the other guy's mother, showing immense restraint when the noob RPGs a single man five metres away (a very familiar sight for Battlefield 3 players at the moment).
Call of Duty fever is reaching frenzied levels. CVG mention a van hijacking in France in which masked attackers used tear gas to stall a delivery vehicle, and reportedly made up with 6,000 copies of Modern Warfare 3. There are midnight launches happening around the world tonight, and launch events will be broadcast live on the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Youtube channel.
If you go along to your local launch and it turns out to be two men in ski masks selling copies out of a van, give Interpol a ring. Will you be picking up a copy of CoD this week?