Community Announcements - cpickett
Steamworks multiplayer is coming in a future update.

- Removed SecuRom from the title and all DLC
- Added a “Granting Tool” In the steam “Tools” section that turns a retail disc into a Steam version of Borderlands
- “News Ticker” added to the main menu to give you updates on the Multiplayer restoration updates.
- Imported SecuRom DLC keys into Steam, so if you bought DLC outside of Steam, activate it within Steam and get your matching content.
PC Gamer
mod of the week

Rome wasn't built in a day, but now it can be built in a turn. A new mod for Civilization V, called CivRome, lets you play from 323 B.C., the death of Alexander the Great, to 500 A.D., the fall of the Roman Empire. You can play as one of 22 possible civilizations including the Romans (Caesar), the Egyptians (Cleopatra), the Macedonians, the Goths, the Gauls, and even the Huns (led by one Mr. Attila T. Hun). There are new technologies to research, specific attributes for some of the civs, and a beautiful, historically accurate new map to conquer. In other words, it's a toga party, Civilization-style.

I'm a little hesitant to cover this mod, as it's still in development and there are tons of planned features that aren't implemented yet, but I figure getting players involved early to show interest and provide feedback and suggestions can't be a bad thing. Besides, I tried it out for a while this week, and it's highly playable with plenty to keep you occupied even in its unfinished state.

So much to conquer!

There's the map, and it's lovely and accurate, not to mention massive (not my picture, that's from the mod's Steam page). Obviously, you can play the mod on a random map, too, but I think the custom map will let you really get into the frame of mind to mess around in ancient Rome. One important note: the mod requires all of Civ V's DLC and expansions to run.

This! Is! An! Area! Outside! The! Border! Of! Sparta!

Along with the 22 playable civs, you'll be able to interact with a massive slew of familiar city-states. Early in my game, I ran into Jerusalem, Cyrene, Rhodes, Nazareth, and of course, Sparta, though deviating from completely realistic movie history, the Spartans wore more than tiny underpants and capes, and there didn't appear to be exactly 300 of them. Oh well, you can't have everything. On the other hand, I'm playing as Caesar, so I'm still going to try.

Yay. We are so happy! Well. Some of us! The rich ones!

What makes citizens happy in CivRome? Well, researching Happiness technology demonstrated that everybody loves slave labor. In fact, the CivRome mod makes slavery a big part of day-to-day life. The system isn't complete yet, but when it is, slaves will function as a resource, able to be imported and exported, used as labor to boost production, functioning as private tutors to buff science and culture, and increasing the happiness of the citizens who aren't slaves themselves. (The slaves, one presumes, will be pretty damn miserable.)

Okay, Rome is founded. Let's get to work on the vomitorium.

There are some interesting and unique facets to some of the new civs. The Huns, for example, were a nomadic people, so if you play as Attila you won't be able to build settlers to found new cities, though you'll be able to capture settlers from other civs. Their cavalry, naturally, will be top notch. Carthage, meanwhile, begins the game with a whopping five cities, owing to the fact that they were a territorial powerhouse at the time, though their military units will be unable to cross the sea as other civs can.

I'll be remembered through history as... a salad? A friggin' salad? Sigh.

The Romans have their own issues. As they grow an advance, a curious problem will arise among their military: soldiers will become more and more unhappy. It makes sense. If Rome was a remarkable paradise filled with wonders and luxury, who the hell would want to go tromping off to die in some distant war? To boost morale, Rome will need to ratchet up the distractions, devoting a lot of effort into keeping its citizens happy, like holding chariot races in the Circus Maximus and by building the Colosseum. Nothing to take your mind off faraway bloodshed than by watching some local bloodshed.

Darn Vandals. They keep tagging my storefronts.

I'm no ancient history buff, but I can appreciate the efforts being made to reflect this era as accurately as possible, and with such a wide range of civs to choose from, I think this could grow into a really spectacular mod. Again, while playable, this is still largely a work in progress and there's a lot more planned. You can check out the discussion page on the 2K forums here, and there's tons of talk on the mod's Steam Workshop page.

Don't forget, you need all of the Civ V DLC and expansions to run this mod!

Installation: You can subscribe to the mod on the Steam Workshop page I just linked. When you fire up Civ 5, just activate it on the Mods menu, and make sure you choose the CivRome map if you want to use that one specifically (trust me, you do).
PC Gamer

When most of Irrational Games was laid off earlier this year many assumed it was the last we'd see of BioShock, at least until 2K Games mustered the courage to have one developed by a secondary studio ala BioShock 2. Nonetheless, it would appear something BioShock related is about to happen, because 2K Games posted this teaser image (above) on its official Twitter account earlier today, along with the text: "Oooo, what COULD this mean?!".

What's a scantily clad woman with an apple got to do with BioShock? Well, in dark lettering at the bottom of that image is a reference to Poseidon Plaza, which is a prominent location in the original BioShock. The reference seems to indicate that we might see a repackaging of the original game in the not-too-distant future. Whether that repackaging is relevant to PC owners is another question.

After all, it's unlikely the teaser is related to a brand new BioShock game. BioShock Infinite only released last year and if there was a fourth BioShock game, surely it wouldn't return to Rapture? Surely? In the meantime all we can do is speculate.
Community Announcements - SparkyFlooner
1.8.3 Patch Notes

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Adam Smith)

Xenonauts is a spiritual successor to UFO: Enemy Unknown, which means that it s also a spiritual successor to many of the most tense and glorious hours of my teenage years. Following a successful Kickstarter and a period in Early Access, the game has been available for almost a month now. With its loyal approach to the original design, Xenonauts doesn t step on XCOM s toes, but I wondered if it could succesfully muscle in on the original game’s territory. Several days of playing later, I have the answer. And some anecdotes about intra-squad romance.>

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Nathan Grayson)

Rarely do I effusively recommend a bundle made up entirely of games I already own, but it’s kinda hard to argue with every BioShock, Spec Ops: The Line, Mafia II, The Darkness II, and XCOM: Enemy Unknown, among others. The Humble 2K Bundle does come with a slight catch (a flat rate of $20 if you want a couple of the more recent games), but even then it’s a formidable deal. Unfortunately, this will technically> count as purchasing The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, but don’t worry: I won’t tell anyone.

… [visit site to read more]

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia
Returning to Rapture is now a lot less expensive, thanks to the folks at Humble Bundle. The latest bundle offers a slate of 2K Games, headlined by the BioShock series. Players will have the option to allocate their funds among 2K Games, Humble Bundle, and the Action Against Hunger and American Red Cross charities.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Alice O'Connor)


Joking about booking time off work for a video game’s release is awfully hackneyed, but I have known people to do it for two series: Grand Theft Auto and Civ. So, just so you know, Civilization: Beyond Earth now has a release date so WINK you might want to WINK book time off work or WINK consider laying the dramatic groundwork for a WINK illness to strike you on October 24.

The news comes alongside a new video with Beyond Earth’s co-lead designers talking about the kinda-Alpha-Centurai-ish-but-really-more-Civ-y game, over footage that’s mostly cinematics but does give a few tantalising peeks at things including the new web-like tech tree.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer
steam sale day 7

We've now been living and breathing the Steam Summer Sale for a week, losing sleep for every flash sale, antsy with anticipation every time the new deals tick over. We're feverish from the savings, but it would be madness to stop saving now. Today's deals fuel our appetite for strategy, shooting, and launching valiant little green men into space on absurdly oversized rockets.

Don t forget to check out GOG s summer deals, too.

Reminder: if a game isn't a daily deal or a flash sale, it could pop up later in the sale for an even lower price. If you want to be safe, wait until June 30 to pick up a sale-long deal.
5 - The Banner Saga
50% off: $12.49 / 9.49 - Steam store page
One of the biggest artistic achievements in gaming this year. We love The Banner Saga s hand-drawn characters and how they animate on the battlefield, but we especially enjoy the way its detailed, Nordic landscapes parallax as your caravan of warriors and survivors march on. The Austin Wintory score is a cherry on the top.
4 - Kerbal Space Program
40% off: $16.19 / 11.99 - Steam store page
We ve murdered a lot of aliens in games, but only in KSP have we stranded little green guys in planetary orbit due to our grossly incompetent management of a budding space program. The Early Access rocket physics simulator is one of the best games still under development, and already has a large community of engineers sharing stories of harrowing space missions, ship designs, and mods. KSP has even made its way into classrooms.

Read Ian s five-part Kerbal Space Program chronicle to see how he learned rocket-building basics and launched a mission to the M n.
3 - Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
50% off: $7.49 / 5.99 - Steam store page
The best competitive FPS on PC owes a lot to its skill-based matchmaking format. At any skill level, five-on-five Counter-Strike narrows the range of tactical choices available to you and the time you have to make them, creating a wonderfully concentrated competitive mode. Otherwise, CS:GO is mainly a vehicle for microtransactions: beware the allure of $400 virtual knives.
2 - Tomb Raider
75% off: $4.99 / 3.74 - Steam store page Flash sale: Buy it before 8 p.m. EST
Lara Croft returns in a gorgeous action game heavily inspired by Naughty Dog's Uncharted series. This younger, rebooted Lara doesn't have her predecessor's confidence or predilection for interesting puzzles the only tombs in this game are disappointingly short and simple but the shooting is by far the best in the series. Exploring Tomb Raider's island and crafting survival gear is also fun, as Lara is a nimble climber and each area is packed with interesting treasures to hunt down. For a challenge, forgo the assault rifle and grenade launcher for Lara's incredibly satisfying (and silent!) bow.
1 - BioShock Triple Pack
83% off: $10.19 / 6.79 - Steam store page
If you haven t explored the ruins of Rapture, you re in for a treat. BioShock s world is a revelation, an under-the-sea society that s crumbled under its own weight, and exploring what remains of it and shooting its crazy inhabitants in the face with fireballs is a delight. BioShock 2 goes even further, changing your perspective and adding a surprising amount of depth with its own story. Irrational s swansong, BioShock Infinite, may still be polarizing, but Columbia is just as beautiful and terrifying as Rapture, and well worth exploring. All three are included here in a bundle that s too cheap to pass up.

Other great deals today
Remember that games not categorized as Daily Deals or Flash Sales may be reduced further later in the sale.

Bastion (40% off) $8.99 / 6.59
Killing Floor (50% off) $9.99 / 7.49
Mirror's Edge (75% off) $4.99 / 2.49
Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition (66% off) $6.79 / 5.09
Jun 20, 2014
PC Gamer
Xenonauts review

Xenonauts began life as a reimagining of the classic turn-based strategy game X-COM: UFO Defense. But where 2012 s excellent XCOM: Enemy Unknown modernized the setting and recreated the franchise s systems in broad, easy-to-read strokes, Xenonauts threw itself headlong into the details. From individual, grid-based inventories to a line-of-sight cover system and destructible environments, every mechanic from the classic has been reimagined, rebuilt, and given an extra layer. The result is a deeply engaging, indie version of an alien invasion that stands toe-to-toe with X-COM the classic and the reboots.
Colder war
The year is 1979. An alien invasion has interrupted the apocalyptic bickering of the USA and the USSR, and the international forces of the Xenonaut project are Earth s only organized defense. The first thing you ll see in-game is the Geoscape, the world map. Placing a base and building a radar station allow you to track and intercept UFOs across a continent. Unlike in Enemy Unknown, satellites and sci-fi won t help you intercept UFOs on the other side of the planet. Here in 1979, you ll need to build and manage supplementary bases to protect everyone.

Building a second base as soon as you can is imperative.

It s frustrating to watch abductions and other alien activity happen beyond your reach, but it s part of some excellent world-building. The world in X-COM is also at war, but Xenonauts makes me feel besieged and horrified in a way that X-COM never did. From my base in Florida, I can track UFOs across North and Central America, but reports of alien attacks across Europe and Asia continue to rattle in. A passenger airliner has been shot down; 128 dead. A military helicopter disappeared; 11 dead. A boat drifted to shore with no one on it; 14 missing. By the end of my first month, over 1,000 casualties have been reported in the areas that my radar doesn t cover.

As time goes on, the many nations of the Xenonaut project start to complain. Too many of their citizens are dying, and you re not everywhere at once. It s a constant balancing act that is familiar to X-COM players, but Xenonauts represents this tension with a fantastically granular system using dollar figures instead of star-based panic metrics. As a country loses faith in you, they decrease their funding $5,000 or $10,000 at a time. Every time a crop circle goes unanswered, for example, that might be one less jet fighter you can put in the air.
Taking turns
Once you spot a UFO, you scramble your nearest jets to go meet it. This second phase of the game is Xenonauts largest single addition to the classic formula: an overhead, strategic air combat map that plays out in real time. The on-rails button-pushing of Enemy Unknown s air combat mode is more fully realized in Xenonauts. Each fighter can be individually ordered to move, use evasive maneuvers, and target specific opponents. It s intricate fun, but there s an auto-resolve option that will skip this phase if you d rather get straight to the nitty-gritty.

It s good looking, but the aerial combat mode is just one more way for you to get your people killed.

After a UFO has been brought down, you send in a dropship with an assault squad to kill the surviving aliens and capture technology. This phase, which makes up the majority of the game, plays out in a classic, turn-based style that is second-nature for classic X-COM fans but could involve some trial and error for newer players. Each soldier has a reserve of time units they can use to move, check their inventory, open doors, and shoot. Xenonauts sticks very close to X-COM s roots here, but my favorite improvement is a time-unit reserve slider. If your soldier can move 70 units this turn at a dead sprint, you can tell them to move less and reserve enough time units for a quick shot or save more time for an aimed shot. You can use these time units in any order, one or two steps at a time, and you ll still reserve a chance to shoot back when an alien flanks you by surprise. It s an incredibly useful addition that fits right in with the classic mechanics.

Another welcome addition: if you capture the UFO and hold it for five turns, you win the mission. The days of scouring the far corners of the map for the one alien hiding behind a rock have been thankfully left behind.

Xenonauts includes a detailed online manual, but it s a bit of a retro throwback that fails to take the place of a hands-on, in-game tutorial. If you ve never played X-COM or anything of its type, you may have a hard time getting up to speed in Xenonauts, which presents you with a ton of menus and not a lot of in-game guidance. The manual is opened through the launcher, but an in-game tutorial would ve made it more accessible for new players. For die-hard fans of the series, though, the game plays so much like X-COM that you ll already understand all but the most specific details.

Assaulting a crashed ship is a lesson in bloody close-combat.
Class warfare
I like the flexibility Xenonauts gives me to manage my soldiers, especially in regards to their equipment and class designations. The biggest frustration in Enemy Unknown is taking a rookie into the field and having them randomly promote to a soldier class that you don t need. Soon your barracks is full of snipers who can t replace your newly KIA heavy weapons expert. Xenonauts ditches that system and lets you assign any weapon to any soldier. There are class designations (assault, rifleman, sniper), but they re for your organizational purposes only. If you need another assault trooper, hire a rookie and hand them a shotgun: you re in business.

Having an adaptable squad is crucial, because these soldiers are fragile like porcelain dolls. In one of my first missions, my troop transport s doors opened to reveal an alien already aiming at us: we d been dropped into a hot LZ. The oversized reptile s first shot hit my assault trooper in the face, and he dropped dead like a bag of hammers. We returned fire, but the alien s second shot wounded our sniper, who dropped her rifle and ran. As the rest of the squad stayed in cover to take out the alien, she ran into a field and bled to death. Losing an experienced soldier to permadeath always sucks (with Iron Man mode on, there s no save reloading), but after that mission I was able to take one of my other veterans, equip him with a sniper rifle, and rebuild my squad without promoting a gun-shy rookie.

The Cold War theme is expressed with powder-blue uniforms and boxy helmets. Nice duds, Oscar.

Equipping your squad also gives you an opportunity to bring gadgets like demolition charges, heat-resistant riot shields, smoke grenades, and flashbangs. Adding these to your kit opens up new ways to play in Xenonauts fully destructible environments. I never imagined a version of X-COM that would encourage me to use C4 to blow apart a wall, toss flashbangs, and charge into close range with shotguns. Now that I ve found one, I never want to go back.

New features like these are a lot of fun, but in replicating and improving what made X-COM great Xenonauts also repeats the steep initial learning curve, unforgiving failure states, and occasional frustrations of the classic. The Geoscape and all its many possibilities is daunting for first-timers, and getting used to the time unit system will require some tinkering and missteps. Players who appreciate granular detail will love the options Xenonauts gives them, but it may take a couple of hours of work and a few quickloads to feel comfortable with everything the game has to offer.

If you re an old fan of the X-COM series, of course, forget about finding your old install disks or putting up with twenty-year-old graphics playing Xenonauts is the best way to relive those glory days with deeper systems. If you re new to X-COM, Xenonauts will let you explore the series classic roots with added depth and details.

Price: $25 / 15
Release date: Out now
Publisher / Developer: Goldhawk Interactive
Multiplayer: None