Shacknews - John Keefer

For any fan of the old Star Trek series, one of the better episodes was Arena, where Captain James T. Kirk fought against a lizrad-like Gorn. Namco Bandai has gotten William Shatner and the Gorn to reprise their roles in a new TV commercial for the upcoming Star Trek video game. Well, sort of.

Shatner doesn't look bad for 82, even if he doesn't move that well, which is part of the fun. The commercial is a nice tribute to the old series, while showing off the Gorn's return in the new game with a more vicious look. The game, which will follow Chris Pine's Kirk and Zachary Quinto's Spock, is hitting shelves for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on April 23.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

StarCraft turns 15 today and, to celebrate the big day, Blizzard will hand out special retro portraits to StarCraft II players. The faces from the original game's box art, once so fearsome and stunningly realistic but now a bit goofy and so plainly CG, can grace your SC profile if you play at least one online game in the next few weeks.

The three classic icons will be unlocked for anyone who earns the 15th anniversary Feat of Strength achievement, simply by finishing one single game online from todayup until 11:59pm PDT on April 17, Blizzard explains in a blog post.

The round can Arcade, Custom, Ranked, Training, Unranked, Versus A.I., whatever, you just need to finish it. Then you too can look too cool for school, because oh mercy I was in school when StarCraft came out I remember it I was so young, so sweet, so naïve.

March 31, 1998. Where has all the time gone? Our skeletons will escape soon.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

After all the fun of GDC, next week is a bit light on new releases. We'll see the launch of jumping hit 'em up BattleBlock Theater, build 'em up Cities in Motion 2, TV show 'em up Defiance, and video game history 'em up Evoland. What fascinates me most, however, is Lords of Football, which appears to be a remarkable combination of Football Manager and The Sims.

Here's our list of next week's new releases:

PC

Xbox 360

PlayStation 3

Wii U

Nintendo 3DS

Shacknews - Steve Watts

At its Game Developers Conference presentation, Epic Games announced details about the scalability and ease-of-use tools of its upcoming Unreal Engine 4. The company went into great detail about the engine's capabilities, and showed off a new trailer to illustrate its strengths.

For one, the engine will be scalable to mobile and web development, including HTML5, a marked change from UE3. "It marks the end of drivers, installation, all the other weird quirks of legacy game development," Epic's Tim Sweeney told Gamasutra. "Now you can have world-class graphics in any web browser--for games, tools, whatever. And it's not done through any quirky language like Javascript, either. We're doing pure C++ code, the same code we run on all other platforms, and it's just being cross-compiled into HTML5 and Javascript for the web environment."

Sweeney also noted that the ability to create a game that runs in-browser could be an "area of future tension," as standards-compliant browsers will take away the need for walled storefronts.

The tool it is aiming to be easier to use in general, including a Blueprint visual scripting and dynamic previews. The C++ Unreal Slate interface is now said to be "fully customizable" as an Unreal Editor too. The company also showed off a demo put together by an artist using a scripter, without technical input by a team. The new "Persona" system lets animators adjust and create previews during setup, and it includes a new AI and navigation system. Epic promised "extensive" use of DirectX 11 as well, with adaptive lighting, full-scene HDR reflections, and a material layering system create more detail.

Watch Epic's latest tech demo to see what all of that means.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

A new 'Ultimate Vault Hunter' difficulty mode is coming to Borderlands 2 for free in a patch alongside the not-free level cap-raising DLC 'Ultimate Vault Hunter Upgrade Pack' DLC on April 2, Gearbox announced last week. But wait, there's more! It's since announced that the patch will bring a few other nice extras too, including more storage upgrades.

Gearbox community manager and noted songwright Chris Faylor detailed the April 2 patch's changes yesterday in a blog post:

  • Adds new items to the Black Market:

    • One additional ammo upgrade for each ammo type, at 50 Eridium each.

    • Two more backpack storage space upgrades, at 50 and 100 Eridium respectively.

    • Two more bank storage space upgrades, at 50 and 100 Eridium respectively.

  • Increases the maximum amount of Eridium players can hold from 99 to 500.

  • Adds a new playthrough balanced for top-tier play: Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode.

  • Various bug fixes.

While everyone will be able to play Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode, one imagines it'll be a mite tricky without the extra ten character levels and new Pearlescent tier of gear the $5 DLC (free to Season Pass holders!) will add. I suspect some plucky Bordermaniacs will try to fight through for a challenge, though.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Electronic Arts has decided to mark the holiday weekend with a sale on its iOS and Android apps, so you can complement your chocolate bunnies and hard-boiled eggs with some games. More than 55 games have been discounted, including some that normally go for $9.99 going for 99 cents.

A few notable apps from the sale list include Battlefield: Bad Company 2 on iPhone and iPad, Command and Conquer: Red Alert on iPad, Dead Space on iPhone and iPad, The Sims 3, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, and a variety of sports and Need for Speed titles. Check out the full list and plan which ones you'll drop a fin on.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Rockstar is releasing even more Grand Theft Auto on the PlayStation Network next week, because all those autos aren't going to theft themselves. This time it will come in the form of two spin-off PSP titles that were later turned into PS2 games, and are now being brought to download on the PlayStation 3.

Rockstar announced that Liberty City Stories and its pastel suit-clad cousin Vice City Stories will be available as PS2 Classics when the PlayStation Store updates on Tuesday. Each will cost $9.99, just like GTA3 and Vice City, which share the same settings, respectively.

The games are also available for PSP (and Vita) for $19.99.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Delightful murder simulator Hotline Miami was never supposed to receive a sequel, so we should be jolly grateful that its planned DLC ended up morphing into one. But after that, developer Dennaton Games says, that's it. No more. It'll bow out murdering men in the early nineties then after that, you'll need to satisfy any head-stomping urges yourself.

The sequel will run with parallel plots in the early 90s, developers Jonatan Söderström and Dennis Wedin Joystiq at GDC, including a non-playable appearance by the original's protagonist 'Jacket'.

It'll apparently also give more attention to emotional experiences, Joystiq says. Touchy-feely emotional experiences rather than cutty-stabby ones, we imagine they mean.

Some bands from the original's lovely soundtrack will return, and new ones will cycle in.

The duo also teased that the sequel may launch simultaneously on Vita, as the folks behind the original's Vita port can start on the sequel "right away." They're talking with Sony.

"It's the grand finale, for us," Wedin said. Given that they'd planned to move onto something new entirely after Hotline Miami, yes, certainly, thank you.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Wargaming has bulked up for the next generation, increasing its studio size, taking on more active projects, and acquiring Gas Powered Games. As the console transition prepares to shake up the industry again, the company is starting to give a roadmap of its plans on PC and, possibly, on next-gen consoles as well.

IGN reports that between World of Tanks and the upcoming World of Warships and Warplanes, company CEO Viktor Kislyi feels the company may be ready to step away from that franchise. The company is currently working on experimental projects, including one unannounced title from Gas Powered Games, and doesn't want to be pigeon-holed into one concept.

Kislyi also indicated that the publisher may be open to next-gen consoles, following the Day 1 acquisition geared toward console development. The lack of console releases during this generation was due to the company's focus on free-to-play, he says, which consoles in this generation generally didn't support. Since next-gen systems like the PlayStation 4 are likely to support the F2P model more aggressively, Kislyi says Wargaming may develop games for them once they sell enough units. He predicts it will take a few years to build a sizable install base, but we very well might see its titles on the PS4 and next Xbox.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Maxis is currently testing fixes for big SimCity issues like progress loss and bringing back Cheetah speed, the developer says.It still has smaller patches in the works too, with patch 2.0 set to bring improvements to fire engines, street cars, casinos and more.

"We've been heads down addressing the key issues we're seeing reported from our community. This includes city rollbacks, lost progress, and the return of features like Cheetah Speed and Leaderboards," senior producer Kip Katsarelis said in yesterday's update.

"Like you, we want all of these resolved ASAP, which is why they are the top priorities in our studio. Matter of fact, we have all of these in a QA environment, giving them a thorough test before we release them back to you, the fans."

Fingers crossed that testing and fixing don't take too long. But for now, more fixes.

"For the future, in Update 2.0, we'll be addressing the Recycling Center bug, fixing the fire engine clumping, improving the efficiency of Street Cars, and increasing the radius of river water. We're also fixing the tuning on Casinos and are making them more profitable."

That's not all, either. Katsarelis didn't offer a firm idea of when 2.0 will launch, though.

...

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