Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

Grand Theft Auto Online is ready to get festive with snow and stocking stuffers filled with deadly weaponry. Rockstar has announced the game's latest update, called Festive Surprise.

The holiday additions are outlined on Rockstar's Social Club site. Los Santos will be covered in snow, where players can open up some special stocking stuffers made up of new Ammu-Nation weaponry. The Homing Missile Launcher and Proximity Mines are now available for purchase as permanent inventory items. Meanwhile, Christmas gear like holiday sweaters, masks, hats, and more are also available to wear through Monday, January 5. Many of these pieces can be found throguh Holiday Special Crate Drops, which will sprinkle into Los Santos throughout the game. A special drop will be available in Los Santos apartments on Christmas Day.

Those looking to make a clean getaway after an armed robbery can also pick up four new vehicles, including the Hot Rod Christmas Ratloader, the Slam Van, the Massacro sports car, and the Jester sports car.

The full patch notes for today's update can be found here.

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

Rockstar Games is announcing the availability of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars for Android and Amazon Kindle Fire as well as an update to the iOS version.

Chinatown Wars will work across a number of supported Android phones, tablets, and other devices, such as the Google Nexus Player and Amazon Fire TV. Yes - that means you can finally enjoy Chinatown Wars on the big screen if you happen to own a compatible device.

All versions of Chinatown Wars features new, highly customizable touchscreen controls, support for physical controllers, and high-resolution widescreen display on supported devices. Retina Display is also finally supported in the latest update.

I thoroughly enjoyed Chinatown Wars back when it released on the Nintendo DS back in 2009. It brings the modern-day Grand Theft Auto experience to the classic top-down feel of the original games, and it's a game I have no problem recommending, especially now that you can play it on supported Android TV devices, like the Fire TV.

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

Supermassive Games’ Until Dawn has been gaining attention ever since the title reemerged in late summer. Our very own Ozzie was able to get some hands-on time with the title just a few weeks ago during Sony’s PlayStation Experience event, and recently, Steven Wong spoke with associate producer Victoria Miller about the game.

In the following video interview, Miller gives us a rundown of what Until Dawn is all about. If you’re unfamiliar with this PlayStation 4 exclusive, eight friends come together to celebrate an anniversary of sorts at a mountain lodge, when everything just goes terribly wrong considering there’s a psychopath attempting to murder all of them.

The player will control all eight characters at one point or another, and their fate lies directly in the decisions you make for them. All characters can survive, die, and anything else in between. This also helps bump up Until Dawn’s replay value as you could end up with a variety of survivors at the end of your story, or they could all become yet more victims of the killer.

Rather than spoil the entire interview here, check out the video above to learn more about Until Dawn and why you should be very careful with revealing what kind of fears you have to the game.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

Microsoft is looking to end their year with a new handful of apps for the Xbox One. Today, the company released five new apps for their next-gen machine, offering new potential means of entertainment for your 'Snap' needs, especially for music lovers.

Pandora and Vevo both make their debut, offering up their premium music services. Pandora offers up its slew of artists for personalized stations, while Vevo caters to the music video crowd, because music videos did not, in fact, die with MTV.

For TV, there's Bravo Now, offering up all of Bravo's shows, provided you have a supported cable provider. Telemundo Now offers full episodes of Telemundo shows and novelas es español, also with a supported TV provider. Finally, there's Popcornflix, an up-and-coming film provider offering new movies for free each day.

These additions come a week after Showtime Anytime made its debut on Xbox One, ending a strong year for Xbox One entertainment apps.

Shacknews - Steven Wong

Before stepping into a recent Sony preview event in New York, the last time I had played The Order: 1886 was at E3. The E3 demo threw me straight into the action and established the game as a cover-based shooter where I could use fancy weapons like the thermite gun, which is a dual fire weapon where you cover enemies in volatile dust and then ignite it with a flare. Although this new demo still has plenty of cover-based shooting, it shows off much more of the game's stealthier side.

For those that don't know, The Order: 1886 is an alternate reality story about how the Knights of Camelot, through taking a potion that prolongs life, survives to the Victorian era. Much has changed, including their weaponry, but they're still dedicated to fighting evil and malicious creatures. In this new demo, members of the Order rappel down the side of a large airship owned by the East India Company, then try to quietly make their way across it. Stealth, not run and gun, is the emphasis here. Being discovered leads to quickly being shot in the head. 

A couple of places require you to use a device that uses fast moving balls of mercury on either side, to override electronic locks. You have to trap the metal between small prongs as they pass by to complete some sort of electrical circuit and cause the bulb to light up. Similarly, you later use and electric lockpick to rattle tumbers until you get through. Although I can see the necessity in having these minigames, I'm not yet convinced that they add much to the story and gameplay. Especially considering how easy they tend to be, with no consequences for making mistakes.

Performing a stealth kill is a quicklime event. As you sneak up on an unsuspecting person, a prompt appears, and you have to hit it as it lights up. They're not very difficult, and your kill animation changes slightly depending on how far you are from the target. In one instance, you kick out their knees before stabbing them in the neck, in the other, you just go straight for the neck stab. Screwing it up, of course, earns you a bullet to the head. The stealth sequences are a little unforgiving in that respect. I had no opportunity to say I blew the stealth bit, now it's time to gun everyone down. The ones I played felt like getting caught meant instant death, and causing me to restart from a nearby checkpoint. Although the stealth sequences aren't complex as some other games - all you need is a little bit of patience - I ended up memorizing movement patterns in some areas strictly through trial and error.

One thing that bothered me about the demo was that there's very little in the way of direction. For example, I had to make my way up to the airship's cabin and take out the piloting crew. But which way was cabin? Later on, I have to find my way to the ballroom. Ok, where's that? The levels are linear enough so that I could figure things out in short time without getting too turned around, but a little bit of direction would have been nice. Maybe even a mission reminder, because I kind of lost track of what I was supposed to accomplish after getting caught up in the action. 

The stealth portion ends when you reach the ballroom and a dignitary enters. My character, Galahad, sets up a silenced sniper rifle and settles into position. I wasn't quite sure what I was doing at first. Was I there to assassinate the dignitary? As it turns out, I was there to protect him from a number of rebels posing as friendly soldiers. I pointed my scope around the room to identify each disguised rebel based on a detail on their uniforms. After discovering two of them and validating the others, I was clear to take them out.

The Order returns to being an action shooter once the sniping sequence is done. That meant that I could take more damage, and could recover from injuries by hiding behind cover. However, I still had my sniper rifle, and I used to eliminate a lot of the incoming soldiers. That's when the rebels started to "get smart" by making more extensive use of cover, and blind firing from doorways. Although some tried to shoot me from the opposite balcony, none actually crossed the room and came up the stairs to get me.

A detail that struck me while I was playing was that the weapons shown here aren't quite as showy as the thermite gun. Sure, they were a little anachronistic, with things like assault rifles and fully automatic pistols, but they all fired plain bullets. Still, even without the showiness, they got the job done. It seemed as though the auto pistol generally had low accuracy and high recoil, forcing you to get in close, and the assault rifle packed a good punch, but used up a lot of bullets.

After seeing the dignitary off on a lifeboat, which was pretty much an enclosed pod with a parachute on it, I was given a chance to raid the armory, then teamed up with Percival to hunt down the remaining rebels. It's in this part that stealth and action really blend together. Although I was a little bothered by how enemies just seemed to pour in from out of nowhere, I was able to go around certain areas and flank enemies while Percival kept them distracted. Alternatively, I could have taken them all head-on to fight my way through the area. The gameplay demo concludes shortly after the firefight.

There might be a few quirks to work out, but the game looks pretty solid right now. I wish there were a few more stealth tools, like creating a distraction or setting traps, instead of simply waiting and sneaking up behind people. But the inclusion of stealth aspects and multiple approaches certainly help the game stand out among the crowd of action shooters, as does the alternate reality Neo-Victorian setting. However, I'm still only getting a small sense of what the story and characters are all about. I don't really understand who the dignitary I saved was, why he was important, or who the rebels were and what they stood for. So far, the game gives me a general direction, and I try to follow it, shooting or stabbing anything that gets in my way. But there's still time, and I look forward seeing bigger reveals, like some of the creatures the Order is fighting against.

The Order: 1886 releases for the PlayStation 4 on February 20th.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

The 2014 Steam Holiday Sale has begun. Many of the best PC games are currently on sale, with new deals set to be introduced every 12 hours.

Notable games for sale include Sid Meier's Civilization Beyond Earth at 40% off, Dark Souls 2 at a whopping 63% off, and the just-released Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes going for 33% off. Holiday Trading Cards are also up for grabs by making purchases in the sale, crafting, or voting in the Community Choice polls.

The full list of deals can be found on Steam.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

Considering that Telltale's Tales From the Borderlands takes Gearbox's series out of the confines of a first-person shooter, it's a little easier to experience on other platforms. Those on iOS and Android can now get a taste of life on Pandora with the first episode 'Zero Sum' hitting mobile devices today.

Tales From the Borderlands begins after the events of Borderlands 2, with Hyperion employee Rhys looking to screw over his cutthroat boss by picking up a Vault Key. Along the way, he bumps into con artist Fiona, leading to danger, laughter, and a whole lot of lies.

While we don't know where the story is going, we certainly like the way it's started. The first episode of Tales From the Borderlands is available now on the App Store and on Google Play for $4.99. For more, check out the trailer below.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

For those still exploring the Kyrat region and getting their faces eaten off by eagles, Ubisoft is offering up another piece of the Far Cry 4 story. The Escape from Durgesh Prison DLC was announced this morning and it is set to arrive on January 13.

Escape from Durgesh Prison sees Ajay and Hurk thrown into Kyrat with nothing at their disposal, following a rough torture session in Yuma's prison. The idea is to complete challenges to find weapons and unlock skills from scratch, while trying to reach an extraction point. The session will end with a final battle against Yuma's forces. The DLC promises to be an intense campaign, because players will only be granted one life.

Escape from Durgesh Prison will be offered for $9.99 or as part of Far Cry 4's Season Pass.

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

Lords of the Fallen will be punishing iOS and Android players in 2015, according to a message released on the game’s official Twitter page yesterday evening.

The tweet doesn’t offer much information besides the the game will be available on mobile platforms next year, so it’s unclear whether or not it will be a full port of the original title that was released in October on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, or if it’ll be a game inspired by the original.

If it turns out to be a full port, that’d be extremely impressive, although I’m not sure just how well the game will play with on-screen controls. Either way, I’m sure you’re going to need to free up some serious space on your mobile device when Lords of the Fallen is released.

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

Telltale and Mojang have partnered up to create a new episodic game series based on Minecraft, called Minecraft: Story Mode.

Minecraft: Story Mode will be set in the world of Minecraft and will feature Telltale’s iconic story-driven gameplay. The title will be a stand-alone product, meaning you won’t need to own a copy of Minecraft in order to enjoy it.

“Telltale's game series will mix new characters with familiar themes, in an entirely original Minecraft experience, inspired by the Minecraft community and the game that continues to inspire a generation.”

We’ll be learning more about Minecraft: Story Mode in 2015 with the game expected to be released across PlayStation, Xbox, iOS, Android, and PC.

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