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Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

The monthly DLC packs for Forza Motorsport 4 keep on rolling (cars can also be seen to roll, because they have wheels), with March bringing a grab-bag of automobiles from a vintage station wagon to snazzy concept cars. The 'March Pirelli Car Pack' is due next Tuesday.

For details on the cars beyond "they have wheels and can move," head to the Forza blog. Here's a list of what exactly you'll get, though:

  • 2011 Aston Martin V12 Zagato (Villa d'Este)

  • 1971 Ferrari #2 Ferrari Automobili 312 P

  • 2012 Ultima GTR

  • 1969 Chevrolet Nova SS 396

  • 1995 BMW 850CSi

  • 1986 Alfa Romeo GTV-6

  • 1969 Chevrolet Corvair Monza

  • 2010 Renault Clio RS

  • 1966 Ford Country Squire

  • 2011 Wiesmann GT MF5

The March Pirelli Car Pack is covered by Forza 4's DLC season pass, but it'll cost you $7 (560 Microsoft Points) if you don't have one of those. It's due on Xbox 360 on Tuesday, March 6.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

The Binding of Isaac has been blocked by Nintendo, purportedly on grounds of religious content. So instead, developer Edmund McMillen says the team is looking into Sony platforms. That's "platforms," because if all goes well, Team Meat hopes to bring it to more than one.

McMillen told Joystiq that the team is looking into the possibility of "1-2 Sony platforms" -- presumably the PlayStation 3 and/or Vita. In the wake of yesterday's announcement regarding Nintendo, McMillen insisted on Twitter that the company hasn't had problems with Sony.

As for Nintendo, McMillen has gone the diplomatic route and tweeted that he has no hard feelings about the affair. "FYI everyone, we are not at all on bad terms with Nintendo," he said. "[Its] their platform their rules, this wont effect any future games with them!"

The Binding of Isaac is loosely based on the Biblical tale of Abraham and Isaac, and touches on heavy subjects such as child abuse.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

[UPDATE: Since the time of our initial post, Ubisoft has released the official box-art for Assassin's Creed 3, which confirms that the game will indeed take place during the American Revolution. New image added, at the end of the article.]

Assassin's Creed 3 has been announced in name only. Fans have been speculating wildly what the next setting in Ubisoft's stabbing adventures will be. It appears Desmond's final story will take place in America--during the American Revolution.

While unconfirmed, a series of leaked images reveal the new setting. This promotional image captured by Kotaku shows an 18th century Assassin in front of ye olde American colonial flag. The site speculates that the character will be half-Native American.

More compelling evidence comes via a Game Informer leak. The site accidentally promoted an Assassin's Creed 3 "hub" with the following image:

Whoops.

Given GI's hubs are reserved for their cover stories, it's likely that Game Informer will "reveal" Assassin's Creed 3. (Except for the fact that it already has.)

[UPDATE: Here's a close up of the official box art released by Ubisoft after our initial report.]

You say you want a revolution? Well, y'know.

Assassin's Creed 3 will be available this October.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Irrational Games hopes to rapture us away to the cloudborne city of Columbia on October 16, the date publisher 2K Games has announced BioShock Infinite will drift onto PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in North America. The international release will follow on October 19.

Jettisoning the underwater world of the first two BioShock games, Infinite rises into the skies of 1912 to visit another great city founded upon an ideal which turned out to be troublesome in reality--American Exceptionalism. Amid a civil war, we'll be a former Pinkerton agent sent to rescue a young lady with extraordinary powers, who's guarded by some awe-inspiring monstrosities.

Courting the hardcore/curmudgeonly market, BioShock Infinite packs '1999 Mode,' an "old school" twist which amps up the difficulty and encourages specialization. 1999, by no coincidence, is of course the year Irrational and the late, great Looking Glass released System Shock 2.

Irrational is working on Infinite with its former sister studio, the branch of 2K Marin previously known as 2K Australia, and Irrational's Australian studio before that.

Here's the 15-minute Infinite gameplay demonstration from E3 in June 2011, and Garnett's impressions of it:

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Square Enix left dangling plot threads at the end of Final Fantasy XIII-2, and has promised more story through downloadable episodes. Sazh: Heads or Tails, on sale now for $4.99 (400 MSP) is the first such piece of DLC. It holds the dubious honor of being not only our first glimpse at Square Enix's content plans for this game, but its first tentative step into delivering story episodes as DLC in the main Final Fantasy series.

The story, however, is barely present at all. Minor spoilers follow.

Sazh was one of the the standout characters from the original game, but he was missing almost entirely from Final Fantasy XIII-2. Square Enix committed to a mostly new cast of characters for this installment, so Sazh was one of the original crew left with brief cameos. He joins in the fight, but the main game's story doesn't detail why and how he got there. "Heads or Tails" attempts to explain just how he came to help the game’s heroes.

Through a rip in time, Sazh finds himself in the Serendipity casino, but outside the realm of time. Missing his son and convinced he's dead, he's approached by a mysterious casino worker who tells him that he's in a place between the possibilities of life and death. The only way to break out of this fate is to win games of chance and collect enough Fortune Medals to determine his own destiny.

In practice, this serves as a flimsy excuse to set the entirety of the episode in one small room. Sazh doesn't do battle with monsters, and has no area to explore that would hold them anyway. Instead, "Heads or Tails" adds two new casino games, and those are your path to earning Fortune Medals. Serendipity Poker is, essentially, a standard poker match with slightly altered suits. Chrono Bind is the more interesting of the two offerings, as it mixes elements of card games, roulette, and even coin multipliers for a more unique experience.

The Fortune Medals aren’t given in the games themselves, but rather handed out at the end of a match. They stack like achievements, earned for winning hands, winning in a particular way, and so on. Once you’ve collected enough Fortune Medals -- an invisible goal that the game never tells you -- the story ends and Sazh is a selectable "Monster" type for Noel and Serah to use. If you're good enough at the card games, you could probably finish the entire episode in an hour or so.

The story it tells is more coherent and satisfying than Final Fantasy XIII-2, even if it uses the same trite platitudes about fate and destiny as a crutch. Sazh is an affable enough character to carry the brief story segments, and his cynical nature makes him a good foil for the player. He doesn't take the bizarre happenings in stride like some other characters, which makes him more identifiable.

The problem is that Sazh's story doesn't really resolve anything. I never wondered what Sazh was up to or why he chose to join in the fight. It answers a question no one asked, while leaving the much larger questions unresolved. The loose threads of Final Fantasy XIII-2 are still as loose as they've ever been. That's really the shame, because it was my main point of curiosity in checking out the DLC. I didn't really believe Square Enix would wrap everything up, but I wondered if we'd see any progress at all. The answer is no.

So, I come away from "Heads or Tails" more convinced than ever that Final Fantasy XIII-3 is on the way. The conflict left by the unresolved ending requires broad swaths of plot resolution, and this pack only offers wispy brush strokes to an unrelated plot point. Unless Square Enix has much more DLC in the cards, and more ambitious DLC at that, it's simply impossible to resolve the cliffhanger story in this manner.

I hesitate to dole out buying advice, but five dollars is a lot to ask for this package. It adds nothing meaningful to the story, and brings no new achievements or trophies. Sazh as a quasi-party member and the Chrono Bind game are decent additions, but the pack as a whole feels too short and insignificant. If this is the future of episodic content for XIII-2, Square Enix still has a lot to learn about western sensibilities.

Shacknews - Tyler J. Smith

Shacknews receives a slew of new screenshots and trailers for upcoming games everyday. The most anticipated titles receive their own post, because we know you're eager to see that content. For the rest, we have the Daily Filter, a place to feature all of the media we add to our enormous database on a daily basis.

Today's Filter features an Atlas teaser for MechWarrior Online, an announcement trailer for the episodic Viking adventure The Banner Saga, and much more!

MechWarrior Online


The Banner Saga


We also have a customization trailer for Shoot Many Robots, a launch trailer for Pinball FX 2 which is now included as a free download for the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, a next-g 2012 trailer for Nexus Conflict, a battle system tutorial for Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2, a new bosses trailer for Mario Party 9, a teaser trailer for Mario Tennis Open, and a launch trailer for Microsoft Flight. Be sure to check out additional trailers and screenshots on each game page!

Shacknews - Jeff Mattas

The conflict between dinosaurs and jetpack-wearing space marines gets underway this March with Orion: Dino Beatdown on PC via Steam and OnLive. Indie developer Spiral Game Studios explains some of the game's finer points, like jetpacks and dinosaurs, in a weekly series of video documentaries leading up to the game's launch.

As far as interesting equipment goes, cloaking devices and 'Medic Guns' join the jetpacks in Orion: Dino Beatdown. Three playable classes will be on-tap for the up to five-player co-op-only experience, which takes place in "huge, endless environments." Laser rifles supplement other, more-standard tools of destruction like machine guns and rocket launchers, and players will earn in-game credits which can be spent to upgrade abilities, weapons, or even call in vehicles like "Hover Bikes, Buggies, Mechs, Tanks and VTOL's."

Try not to confuse Orion: Dino Beatdown with Spiral's other title, Orion: Prelude, which began life as a Kickstarter project. Both titles feature soldiers locked in life-or-death combat with hordes of prehistoric killing machines, as well as vehicles and frickin' jetpacks (!!!); however, 'Prelude' is headed to Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network in addition to Steam and OnLive, at some unannounced point in the future. Based on what little we've seen so far, both games look similarly awesome, and awesomely similar.

Be sure to check out the two trailers below. The first is Orion: Dino Beatdown's official announcement trailer, and the second is the first 'VidDoc,' in which the developer discusses Beatdown-related topics like open worlds, missions and objectives, dinosaur-types, DLC, playable classes, bases and generators, and player shops and structures. In other words, the gameplay is not just simply a case of "run around and shoot dinos in the face," though there will probably be plenty of that, as well.

Orion: Dino Beatdown will run you $9.99 when it's released next month.


Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

In spite of having already announced it, Konami sent Shacknews a press release with the headline: KONAMI ANNOUNCES ZONE OF THE ENDERS HD COLLECTION. Hmm.

As already revealed by Konami, the Zone of the Enders HD Collection includes remastered versions of the two main Zone of the Enders games for PS3 and Xbox 360. The Collection will also include The 2nd Runner, content not seen in the States before.

The Konami press release confirms a Fall release for the bundle for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Oddly, it omits mention of a Vita version of the collection--also confirmed to be in development. As expected, the HD re-release will include brand new trophies and achievements, as well as a new animated intro created by Sunrise.

Shacknews - Jeff Mattas

Now that we're in an age where the prevalence and reach of social media platforms and smart phones is inescapable, it seems as though Sony is now openly discussing the possibility of using some of those platforms as catapults to introduce or supplement new intellectual properties. The idea--less of a revelation and more so a blinding flash of the obvious--continues to be shunned by Nintendo, however, which is determined to keep all of its IPs relegated to its own platforms.

Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida discussed the possibility of introducing new IPs via platforms like Facebook and mobile devices with IndustryGamers in a recent interview, saying that Sony is certainly open to using those platforms to upsell their customers. It makes sense. After all, PlayStation Home facilitates the same kind of expanded brand awareness for consumers, albeit in a much more insular environment.

In fact, Yoshida noted, Sony is already "discussing" and "experimenting" with the possibilities. He referenced inFamous Anarchy, the free Facebook tie-in that launched alongside inFamous 2.

"I don't necessarily believe we're competing against cell phones or social networks," Yoshida said. "Because everybody uses Facebook, and lots more people have cell phones and smartphones already," he continued. "With people's lifestyles, they're always connected and engaged socially, so why not put our IP on there? Or give some small experience [related to our IP] like you said?"

"So we like the idea and will continue to experiment to see how best we can use this new medium to connect to our new IPs," Yoshida summarized.

Shacknews - Jeff Mattas

Indie developer Mojang Specifications has acquired some new employees to help enhance server support for its flagship title, Minecraft. While this is good news in and of itself, the most interesting part is that the new hires were selected from the Minecraft community; specifically, the top four developers of Bukkit, a "commununity-based Minecraft server implementation."

The news comes via a post by lead developer Jens Bergensten on the developer's official blog. The new team "will work on improving both the server and the client to offer better official support for larger servers and server modifications," and includes Warren Loo, Erik Broes, Nathan Adams, and Nathan Gilbert.

After the new server API is constructed, Mojang intends to expand it to support client-side modding. Though backwards-compatibility for current Bukkit users won't be guaranteed, bukkit will be updated to support version 1.2, which should shorten the wait when Minecraft server updates occur.

Bergensten notes that the developers of Bukkit were chosen over other community-driven Minecraft teams because they always kept the server admins in mind when developing modifications. "We hope that this will help the quality of Minecraft multi-player to improve, both for large and private family servers, while still being able to add fun stuff for the bigger audience," Bergensten wrote.

Aside from the four bukkit developers, developer Daniel Kaplan "will join to handle the project lead to coordinate Minecraft's broader goals."

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