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Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

This Tuesday! Tuesday! Tuesday! a demo for Codemasters' arcade racing spin-off Dirt Showdown is smashing! bashing! dashing! and crashing! into PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3! 3! 3! If you like cars, or truly hate them, you might want to play it.

The 1.16GB Xbox 360 demo is available now, though it is of course initially exclusive to Live Gold members. The PS3 demo will arrive with the PlayStation Store update this afternoon, and the PC demo will come via Steam whenever it jolly well pleases.

The demo packs one track, by the Golden Gate Bridge, with single-player "full-impact" racing in a figure of eight, plus eight-player multiplayer 'Rampage' demolition derby. You'll need to challenge a friend online to unlock the multiplayer, though.

Dirt Showdown is due out on May 29. As Codies is focusing more and more on racing games, we can probably expect a proper Dirt sequel before not too long.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

You and I know pirates to be cheery drunkards, perhaps made of plasticine, who plunder cursed booty and battle sea monsters. Yet, TopWare Interactive claims, this is all fiction. Promising to "challenge the image of pirates in popular culture," the publisher has released the first gameplay trailer for keelhaul 'em up Raven's Cry.

You see, apparently pirates were an unpleasant sort, who'd sooner murder a man for his mullions than gallivant around saving the world. Take poor little Christopher Raven: after his parents were murdered by pirates, he turned pirate himself to hunt them down. It's a vicious and sorry cycle.

TopWare says Raven's Cry will "crack history wide open and retell the Caribbean's darkest chapter with an authenticity unseen in today's Hollywood films, showing this period of vengeance, violence, and greed unchained through a more honest, blood-spattered lens than ever before." Why Chris has special abilities like "cursed Voodoo Charms," then, is something of a mystery.

Expect real-world locations and events from the 17th Century Carribean, and a little freedom in whether Chris is righteous and just or a cold-hearted cad. Check out the official site for more. Developed by Octane Games, Raven's Cry will board PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 in late 2012.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

The official reveal of the next Call of Duty game was supposed to happen during the NBA playoffs tonight, but someone at Activision pulled the switch a little early to confirm that yes, it is indeed Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 from Treyarch. And yes, it is jumping into the near-future.

The official site went live early this morning, though most of the useful bits are still locked down. Still, it does confirm that it'll be released for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on November 13.

The screenshots and teaser trailer are unavailable, but the site has a still of the trailer showing Los Angeles in flames and being evacuated. A fuzzed-out thumbnail shows the quadrotor teased in a spot of viral marketing, and confirms that the leaked screenshots picked up by Doope were real.

"Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 propels players into a near future, 21st Century Cold War, where technology and weapons have converged to create a new generation of warfare," the pre-order page says.

Expect more information, and that trailer, tonight.

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 a pod kill trailer for Starhawk, a Perpetual Testing Initiative trailer for Portal 2 , and much more!

Starhawk


Portal 2


We also have a class overview for Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Online, a Varus patch preview for League of Legends, a developer diary for Orion: Dino Beatdown, and new screenshots for Fable Heroes. Be sure to check out additional trailers and screenshots on each game page!

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

As promised, Bethesda's Kinect-powered update to Skyrim is going live tomorrow. The patch will enable a variety of voice commands, such as quick access to the map and saving. However, the most exciting aspect of the new functionality is the ability to shout commands--in English or Dragon Language. You'll be able to yell "Unrelenting Force" to your Kinect sensor. Or, if you're wearing the appropriate attire, you'll be able to yell "Fus Ro Dah."

But what else can you do? Bethesda has released the complete list of commands for you to peruse.

Commands can be spoken in English and Dragon Language

For the complete list of commands, click here (PDF).

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

As one of the most recognizable casual game brands on the market, it's a surprise that this hasn't happened any sooner. PopCap has announced that it has finally finalized a number of licensing deals that will bring its properties to the non-digital world.

The first products to come out of this agreement will represent Plants vs Zombies. Bejeweled and other franchises will be adapted next year.

Jazzwares will create a series of plush toys, figures and "electronic accessories" including headphones, speakers, and device cases. Seen above: PvZ plushies.

Bioworld Merchandising will create apparel, headware, bags, and accessories. Pictured above: a PvZ wallet.

Trends International is developing calendars and posters. In addition, Walls360 will offer custom wall graphics. Funko! will be creating their own PvZ Pop! vinyl figures, and MjC International will create PvZ-themed adult sleepwear and boxers.

Shacknews - Garnett Lee

God of War gets multiplayer? Yes! Sony unveiled new online offerings for the next God of War game, Ascension. Check this episode out for some video of the game in action! Then, what's going on with Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance? A new video hit the web today, but it's quite cryptic. Finally, what's new in video games this week? We take a look at this week's new releases.

Check out today's episode of Shacknews Daily.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

GameFly announced today that it is partnering with mobile developers and publishers to offer a "Game of the Day" in the GameFly iPhone app. With an update that rolls out today, curated games will be offered at free or discounted prices, and it will also highlight recent price drops in the regular App Store.

Siege Hero is featured as today's title among other picks, and the announcement teases The Oregon Trail and Samurai vs. Zombies as upcoming additions. Users can also share recent activity through the app's social features.

"With the popularity of the GameFly mobile app, we wanted to bring greater value to our millions of users by helping them discover great mobile games whether they be new games released that day or previously released titles," said GameFly co-founder Sean Spector, in the announcement.

[Disclosure: Shacknews.com is part of GameFly Media, a wholly owned subsidiary of GameFly, Inc.]

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Frictional Games has been making horror games for many moons but really proved its chiller-chops with Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Co-founder Thomas Grip is a little disappointed in how slowly the genre's developed over the past decade, though, so he's laid out a list of his hopes for future horror games.

The first few points in Grip's blog post will be familiar to any fans of horror in other mediums. Rather than drop us into alien situations, he says, we should be eased in from familiar situations so we relate to the spooky shenanigans. A slow build-up is important so scares have greater impact, but he's also thinking about games lasting three hours or less, "so that all focus can be on establishing a single (or just few) peaks of terror."

That old video game staple, combat, also needs a shake-up. Grip says that it makes players "focus on all the wrong things, and makes them miss many of the subtle cues that are so important to an effective atmosphere." He'd like games to treat enemies as something other than straight 'enemies'--things to destroy or avoid--as rounded inhabitants of virtual worlds, with their own beliefs and agendas, have more horror potential.

Players should have more freedom, both in where they can go, and how much control they have, not ripping it away for cutscenes. By heightening their connection, Grip posits, it'll make it even more gut-wrenching when they're confronted with consequences to their actions, reflecting on some uncomfortable home truths.

Lastly, and most difficult, he wishes for more human drama. "Most horror in other media does not have the phenomena/situation per se as its focus, but instead its effect on people," he writes. "However, in video-games the main actions still revolve around inanimate objects or brainless foes. By having the player's actions being directly tied to other people, the horror gets so much more personal and intense."

Do check out the full post as it's awfully interesting, and could apply to many other genres too. While many games do hit some of these notes, let's not quibble and lose sight of the point.

Frictional's next game is a spooky collaboration with Dear Esther developer thechineseroom, bearing the horrific name Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. Fingers crossed that a few of these wishes come true in that.

Shacknews - John Keefer

Usually when preparing for a raid in World of Warcraft, I'd disenchant a bunch of items to get enchants ready for any new gear I won. Every once in a while, I'd get sidetracked and come back to DE a vital piece of epic gear instead of the trash I had intended. Panic usually ensued.

Now, Blizzard has instituted a new restoration policy that makes submitting a ticket for that problem obsolete. The policy allows players use the item restoration service to get back any item that they may have sold, disenchanted or destroyed by mistake. The service, operated through a web interface, will return the item through in-game mail almost instantly. The hitch is you can only make one request per account every 30 days.

Be advised if you want to game the system (as some players like to do): If you DE an item and request it restored, Blizzard will review the situation first. So if you deliberately junk an item for enchant materials, then create your enchants, you will not get your item back. Materials received from a DE (or gold received through a sale) will be removed from your inventory.

I guess the key takeaway here is I can now afford to get distracted once a month before raids.

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