Eurogamer


Sony has constructed a Bravia television that has a built-in PlayStation 2. It can be yours right now for £199.


The Sony BRAVIA KDL-22PX300 measures 22", supports 720p and has a PS2 built into the stand - where its feet would be if it were human. And it's in the base where you can stuff games or DVDs.


The telly has Bravia Internet Video Access for sites like YouTube, Lovefilm and BBC iPlayer. The KDL-22PX300 comes with one PS2 controller and also has on-board sound.


There are four HDMI ports, two optical digital outputs, a headphone slot, three USB sockets, two Ethernet holes, a SCART slice, PC input and holes for component cables. Bloody hell.

Eurogamer


The developer behind downloadable hits The Maw, 'Splosion Man and Comic Jumper has announced its next game: Ms. Splosion Man.


It's due out autumn 2011 and has an obvious connection with 2009's Xbox Live Arcade exclusive 'Splosion Man, a game Dan Whitehead awarded 7/10 in Eurogamer's review.


Twisted Pixel CCO Josh Bear told Joystiq: "We could have churned out new levels [for 'Splosion Man], but we wouldn't have had the time to add in new gameplay puzzles or cool new character stuff. But we didn't just want to do 'Splosion Man 2, it had to be something a little more interesting. That is why we decided to do MSM."


Platforms were unannounced, but given Twisted Pixel's previous when it comes to Xbox Live Arcade exclusivity, we're guessing Ms. Splosion Man will turn up on at least the Xbox 360. Announcement trailer is below.

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Eurogamer


Hands up who likes tower defence games?


I'm waving my arms and bouncing on my chair like the boy in the maths test who really needs a wee. I'm hooked on the things in all their forms, from Flash Element TD to Field Runners, from to Hidden Path's excellent Defence Grid: The Awakening to the multitudes on the Android Marketplace. On the bus, while the bath's running, even in the bath, they scratch my itch.


Anomaly: Warzone Earth, from ex CD-Projekt staffers 11 bit, brings a zesty little tweak to the genre: it places you in charge of mobile forces and leaves tower-construction to the AI.


Serious buffs may have come across the likes of Anti-TD in the past, which embraces similar concepts, but with nowhere near the level of scope and substance of Anomaly. On a similar scale to Defence Grid, it's a more complex piece of development than standard TD fare, with crisp, pleasing visuals and some interesting tactical challenges all of its own.


A colossal alien mothership has been spotted heading for earth, but just as it reaches the atmosphere, we blast it to smithereens. Go us! Those smithereens, however, have rained down on earth's cities, where they've set up domes of crackling energy: the game's eponymous Anomalies.


What's going on inside those opaque bubbles? Some kind of alien disco? One can only hope. It's your job to find out, with your hand-picked troupe of combat vehicles.


Your armoured column consists of up to six units and there are six types to deploy. Some are lightly armed but heavily armoured; designed to soak up fire so your more lightly shielded big-gunners can go to work. Some offer area-effect shielding to the units in front and behind them.


They all move at the same pace. By flicking to the command screen you're able to path them around the grid-like cityscapes, choosing which direction they turn at each junction. It's essentially a series of waypoints you set on the way to the mission's key target.


Your vehicles may move at a plodding pace but the decision-making and the action is intense nonetheless. This is thanks in no small part to the unit you have full movement control over: the commander.


His role is to provide tactical support to your armoured column as it ploughs inexorably toward the key alien target at the heart of each anomaly. He has no offensive capabilities, but grants limited support functions such as area-effect heals for your units, smoke-grenades to fox enemy targeting, and the deployment of decoy vehicles. The commander can dart around and collect these as powerups en-route.


The tutorial mission inserts you on the outskirts of your first anomaly-shrouded city. Radioactive debris is raining onto the roads, so it's up to you to act as human GPS and field-mechanic to your forces as they make their way into the city. This involves re-pathing them to avoid threats, repairing them as they become damaged and ordering new units onto the field if they're lost.









Once inside the anomaly, mild disappointment at the lack of alien disco-tech soon gives way to grim determination. The fiends are turning earth's cities into warzones, studded with various flavours of turret.


The basic variety is a fast-tracking laser cannon – not too threatening alone, but dangerous in clusters. You soon encounter more specialised kinds such as the scorcher, which can't rotate but fires a searing heat-ray at long range down a single road. Then there's the behemoth, which pumps out massive AOE damage.


Here's where on-the-fly unit management becomes paramount. There's a single key target on each map to destroy, but the last thing you want to do is face a scorcher head-on down the main strip. Re-pathing when such threats appear is crucial so you can set your column up for a side-on approach.


In addition, you need to keep your commander out of the enemy's kill-zones. If his health is reduced to zero he becomes stunned for seven seconds, leaving him unable to support the column. This can easily lead to a wipeout.


To make things extra-interesting your vehicles collect resources on the road which your commander is unable to pick up. You can then pause the game and spend these in the upgrade menu to improve specific abilities.


This can lead to some interesting choices with meaningful outcomes: do you head down the more dangerous road for the sake of the resources that lie along it, risking failure for the reward of added toughness and firepower?


With 14 missions to play through, 11 bit tell us that main story-game will last around six hours. There's an extra 'endless' mode to tackle afterwards. This involves entering an anomaly and trying to destroy a key target within five minutes while turrets spawn semi-randomly to keep things fruity.


Upon completion a new target appears, the timer is reset, and turrets begin respawning in a more prolific fashion. The levels intensify in this way until the player's forces are wiped out, or his brain explodes.


Six hours of story-missions doesn't sound like a lot, but that's reflected in the 10-15 Euro price point slated for this download-only game. 11 bit has yet to announce which digital services they'll partner with for the PC version.


The studio is also working on a rather tidy-looking iPhone version, with an intelligent rejig to the UI and control system to reflect touch-control, and a higher-resolution iteration for the iPad.


The ultimate aim is to release Anomaly on Xbox Live and PSN as well, but 11 bit informs us these deals aren't yet in place. Here's hoping they do get sorted out as those platforms could be the perfect home for what's shaping up to be a fun, pleasingly tactical reinterpretation of tower defence principles.

Anomaly: Warzone Earth is due to be released on PC, iPhone and iPad.

Eurogamer


Retro Studios has revealed how it dealt with the twin pressures of being new custodians of Nintendo's treasured Donkey Kong Country series and seeing key members of the Metroid Prime team leave before development started.


In the latest 'Iwata Asks' interview on Nintendo's official site, CEO Satoru Iwata asks Retro about the departure of design director Mark Pacini, art director Todd Keller and principal technology engineer Jack Mathews in 2008 to set up Armature Studio.


"When talk came up of several key members from Retro Studios leaving the company, not a few people were skeptical about whether the company would be able to keep making high-quality games," revealed Iwata.


"In the end, Retro Studios totally dispelled all such concerns, but it must have been a challenge or hardship of sorts. You must have had to decide in a very short period of time what kind of role the new central developers would play and how you would pull the team together.


Senior designer Kynan Pearson replied, "Well... it was, of course, hard when a few key members who had worked on the Metroid Prime series left, but I knew it was also a chance to introduce new ways of thinking and operating."


Mike Wikan, another senior designer then chimed in, "Rather than viewing the project as hard, I was excited about this beautiful opportunity.


"At the same time, I felt a great sense of responsibility in that I didn't want to disappoint the expectations of fans of Donkey Kong Country."


A third senior designer, Tom Ivey, added, "I felt a great sense of responsibility the way Mike did. But I'd worked together with these guys the whole time and I understood how they operated, so I wasn't really worried.


"We bounced our thoughts off each other to come up with the best ideas-just as we always had-and the way the team bonded together worked out positively."


It sure did – Eurogamer's Ellie Gibson awarded Donkey Kong Country Returns 9/10. It's out tomorrow on Wii.


The full interview is well worth a read, offering a nice insight into the exacting standards Nintendo expects of its developers. Take this exchange, for example:


"Toward the end of development," explains Tom Ivey at one point, "we were working all night more often, and about five o'clock in the morning here in Texas we'd have a telephone conference. We were absolutely exhausted, but [assistant producer] Tabata-san was full of pep. It was, like, noon in Japan."


"She'd be brimming with life and enjoying herself immensely as she made immensely tough requests for us to change something."

Eurogamer


The first trailer has just popped up for Shadow Guardian – a new iOS adventure developed by Gameloft – and it's left us with a serious case of deja vu.


There's a distinct whiff of Naughty Dog's acclaimed Uncharted franchise wafting around the clip, which you can check out below.


The game apparently follows the adventures of heroic everyman Jason Cole as he embarks on a globe-trotting adventure in search of powerful ancient artifacts. Sounds familiar.


It's due out on iPhone and iPad before Christmas and looks like it might be a reasonable way to pass the time while waiting for news on what Uncharted's Nathan Drake has planned next, providing you're happy to struggle with those patience-testing virtual thumbsticks.


It's not the first time Gameloft's copyright lawyers will have had cause for sleepless nights. The mobile game specialist is the same publisher responsible for App Store Halo 'homage' N.O.V.A, DSiWare Castlevania clone Soul of Darkness and the God of War-flavoured iOS romp Hero of Sparta, to name but a few of its looky-likeys.

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Eurogamer


A first-of-its-kind court case brought against an alleged Xbox 360 modder has been dismissed after the judge gave prosecutors a 30 minute dressing-down.


As reported by Wired, US district judge Philip Gutierrez bellowed that he had "serious concerns about the government's case," adding, "I really don't understand what we're doing here."


He then criticised prosecutors of 28-year-old Matthew Crippen, who was accused of two counts of violating the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, for calling witnesses who could also be guilty of criminal behaviour themselves.


The defence claimed Entertainment Software Association investigator Tony Rosario violated California privacy law when he secretly videotaped Crippen allegedly performing an Xbox mod in his LA home.


Microsoft security employee Ken McGrail, who inspected two consoles allegedly tampered with by Crippen, admitted that he had modded Xboxes while at college too.


"Maybe two of the four government witnesses committed crimes," the judge said. "I think it is relevant and the jury is going to hear about it – both crimes."


Prosecutors were arguing that Crippen ran a small business modifying Xbox 360 firmware to allow users to run pirated games, an offence that could carry a maximum 10 year prison tarrif.


Crippen had attempted to argue a "fair use" defence, claiming it was legal to hack the consoles on the grounds that the mod had non-infringing purposes, like running homebrew software or backing-up games.


The judge had initially prohibited him from doing so but then backtracked during the course of his rant.


Once the judge was done with his outburst, prosecutor Allen Chiu meekly said, "I apologise to the court" and asked for a recess to determine whether they would offer the defendant a deal, dismiss the case entirely or go ahead with the trial.


Just before the trial was set to begin Chiu told the judge, "The government has decided to dismiss the indictment," allowing Crippen to walk free

Eurogamer


Ubisoft has instituted a novel measure to combat freeloaders looking to pirate the DS version of Michael Jackson: The Experience: it's figured out a way to make hacked ROMs play a vuvuzela chorus over the classic Jacko tunes.

Tiny Cartridge spotted a YouTube clip that shows a pirated version of the game rendered unplayable by the obnoxious buzz of the South African horn. Not only that, but crucial on-screen prompts aren't displayed either.


Nice try Ubisoft but we'd imagine a spot of vuvuzela might actually enhance a few of Jackson's later numbers. Earth Song, say.


If the Wii version is anything to go by, the DS take on Ubisoft's homage to the erstwhile King of Pop might actually be worth shelling out for. Eurogamer's resident crotch-grabber Johnny Minkley awarded the game 7/10 earlier this week.

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Eurogamer


Somewhat bewilderingly, there's no voice chat option in PlayStation Network's multiplayer top-down zombie blaster, Dead Nation. Happily, that's set to change soon.


Developer Housemarque took over the PlayStation Blog to announce that it's working on a patch that will add in voice chat for the game's online co-op mode.


"It's regrettable that voice chat did not make it into the final game straight away," explained Housemarque CEO Ilari Kuittinen.


"We at Housemarque put our hearts and souls into our games and we hope that many people enjoy the fruits of our labour and that we are able to create thrilling gaming moments for all of our players.


"The game is currently missing this feature, which is a major issue for some players, but we think that releasing Dead Nation has been the right decision as the game is still great fun.


For the most part, Eurogamer's Dan Whitehead agreed, awarding Housemarque's effort 6/10 when it launched on PlayStation Network last week.

Eurogamer


Super Meat Boy's developer has launched a twin-pronged retort to animal rights group PETA's recent Super Tofu Boy spoof.


Team Meat's co-CEO Edmund McMillen didn't, ahem, mince his words in a lengthy post on the studio's website.


"Honestly this is a major high point for me personally," he claimed.


"Putting all my cards on the table right now, I actually repeatedly made fake user names in PETA's forum pushing the game at them in hopes something like this would happen but gave up, realising that PETA wouldn't ever put effort into something "meat related" that was so small and unknown, that's exactly why this parody is so important and eye opening for us.


"PETA is 1000 times more well known then Super Meat Boy and the fact that they went out of their way to make a parody like this is beyond flattering and amazingly helpful.


"First off," he continues, "I want to thank PETA for helping us turn Super Meat Boy into a house hold name and of course for making themselves look quite foolish in the process... see (as mentioned in countless interviews) Meat Boy isn't made of animal meat, he's simply a boy without skin whose name is Meat Boy... but sshh don't tell them that.


"Now don't get me wrong, I have NOTHING against vegans or vegetarians. I was vegetarian for many years, and was an animal control officer who saved animals for a living for a long time, I empathise, understand and accept why people choose to eat, and live as they wish, and obviously I believe everyone should have the freedom to express themselves in anyway as long as it doesn't hurt others.


"But," McMillen explains, "I don't support an organisation who is 100 per cent against all animal testing, because that would mean my best friend in the world would be dead, not to mention his mother and many of my family members and friends who also are diabetic.


"It's hard to make a come back to a company that is high brow enough to compare concentration camps to chicken coops," he adds, "but I'll try and close this with a joke that's a bit more light hearted.


"How many PETA members does it take to change a lightbulb? None - PETA can't change anything."


BOOM. And it doesn't end there. Team Meat is preparing an update for the PC version of its wonderful platformer that will add in its own take on Tofu Boy, a character it claims it invented long before PETA's effort came along.

Eurogamer


Co-operative EA shooter Army of Two: The 40th Day and acclaimed EA FPS Battlefield: Bad Company 2 take top billing on Xbox Live this month, with both titles heading to the Games on Demand service.


The fun-but-flawed Army of Two follow-up arrives on 7th December while the brilliant Battlefield sequel goes live on 14th December.


Microsoft's Major Nelson also confirmed what other goodies we can expect to see on Xbox Live through December. Any of this lot take your fancy?

  • Xbox Live Arcade:
  • 22nd December: A World of Keflings, 800 Microsoft Points
  • 29th December: Raskulls, 800 Microsoft Points
  • 5th January: ilomilo, 800 Microsoft Points
  • Xbox LIVE Deal of the Week:
  • Week of 6th December: Winter Wonderland: Polar Panic, 400 Microsoft Points (50 per cent off);Burton Snowboard, 120 Microsoft Points (50 per cent off); Burton RED Hi Fi Helmet, 80 Microsoft Points (50 per cent off); Gingerbread Man, 120 Microsoft Points (50 per cent off); Gears of War 2 Snowblind Map Pack, 160 Microsoft Points (60 per cent off); 3 on 3 NHL Arcade, 200 Microsoft Points (50 per cent off)
  • Week of 13th December: Casual Arcade: Bejeweled 2, 400 Microsoft Points (50 per cent off); UNO RUSH, 400 Microsoft Points (50 per cent off); Zuma, 200 Microsoft Points, (50 percent off); Tetris Splash, 400 Microsoft Points (50 per cent off); Feeding Frenzy 2, 400 Microsoft Points
  • Xbox Live Avatar Marketplace:
  • 2nd December: NBA Collection (today)
  • 2nd December: Trials HD (today)
  • 9th December: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
  • 9th December: Holiday Collection
  • Xbox Game Add-Ons:
  • 8th December: Pinball FX 2: Marvel Comic Table Pack, 800 Microsoft Points
  • 14th December: Forza Motorsport 3 Community Choice Classics Pack , 400 Microsoft Points
...