Weekly Star Wars: The Old Republic maintenance has been completed and game servers have returned - patch 1.1.1 is now live.
It doesn't give white Lightsaber crystals to everyone. That was a joke - a forced choke. Sorry.
All the SWTOR patch 1.1.1 changes are noted below.
Our favourite is that "Kintan Behemoths no longer occasionally walk on top of trees when in combat".
The False Emperor
The Red Reaper
The first batch of Final Fantasy 13-2 DLC launches on Xbox Live on 7th February and PlayStation Network the day after, publisher Square Enix has announced.
It's a Coliseum Battle titled Lightning & Amodar. These regular add-ons will pit the player against enemies from previous entries in the series, allowing you to recruit them into your party once they've been defeated. A price has not yet been confirmed.
Square also announced plans to release additional story episodes for some of the game's key characters, though wouldn't offer additional detail on exactly what to expect.
One of the game's endings offers up a 'To be continued...' tease. Is Square planning a downloadable epilogue? Or is Final Fantasy 13-3 on the way?
The game, which launches on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 this week, won an 8/10 from Eurogamer.
"Hurling money at a development team that has been labouring without firm creative leadership for close to a decade now has led to a game that is, in many ways, as disjointed as its world, as rambling as its lead character," read Simon Parkin's Final Fantasy 13-2 review.
"In those fragments excellence, confusion, beauty, strangeness, wonder and loss may all be found."
Dark Souls developer From Software has admitted to "technical difficulties" which cause troubling frame-rate issues in its hard-as-nails role-player.
From Software felt out of its depth with the game's huge scope, Dark Souls' creative director Hidetaka Miyazaki revealed to Edge.
"Yes, there were technical difficulties," Miyazaki said. "I don't believe that it's okay to have them, but realistically speaking, it was quite a large-scale game - even in terms of budget and expectations.
"So we're very sorry for the trouble we've caused by our processing errors and bugs from Japan. It was a title that we haven't really experienced in all aspects, so there were areas where we felt our technical side couldn't keep up with the game's scope, like an increasingly growing ache."
Miyazaki considered working on the game "a learning curve", but is unsure whether From Software will ever revisit the Dark Souls universe.
"We don't even know if we'll have another chance. We have the confidence that we can improve from our mistakes this time and create an even better Dark world, but we don't know if the users will forgive us for the mistakes."
Standalone Total War: Shogun 2 expansion Fall of the Samurai will be released on 23rd March, Sega has announced.
Maybe it'll be a perfect blossom on that day, maybe it won't.
Total War: Shogun 2 - Fall of the Samurai costs £24.99 on Steam.
The expansion tells a story set 400 years after Total War: Shogun 2. The ways of the samurai are coming to end; Western guns are being imported and civil war beckons.
There's a new 19th century Japan campaign map to conquer, which has expanded geographically north to the island of Ezo. There are six new playable clans, new meddling foreign powers, railways, new land units, ships and agents.
Ships can assault ports and vice versa, and tower defences can be upgraded to specialise in archery, matchlock or Gatling gun use.
Multiplayer has been beefed up too, and includes 40 new retainers (not braces for your mouth), 30 new armour pieces and a new 19th century avatar skill tree.
A fan campaign designed to encourage more Half-Life information from developer Valve plans a mass gameplay session this Saturday.
Steam group A Call for Communication (Half-Life), which boasts more than than 29,500 members, has organised a huge Half-Life 2 play session this weekend, designed to raise awareness of its campaign by boosting the game up Steam's most-played list.
The fan collective aims to encourage information from Valve on when the Half-Life series might return, be that in the form of Half-Life 2: Episode 3 or a fully-fledged Half-Life 3.
Group numbers have swelled from 10,000 members since the campaign first hit the headlines two weeks ago.
A Call for Communication's Half-Life 2 play session begins at 7pm UK time this Saturday night.
"Instead of focusing efforts in a negative and disrespectful way, we have decided to gain Valve's attention by delivering a basic message: 'Your oldest and longest running fanbase would like better communication,'" the Steam group's description reads.
"Hopefully such attention will be recognized by Valve, and the community's voice will be heard."
Buy Capcom open world fantasy game Dragon's Dogma and you'll be the first to play the Resident Evil 6 demo.
Retail versions of Dragon's Dogma contain a redeemable token that lets you download the Resident Evil 6 demo.
On Xbox 360, the demo will be available to download globally on 3rd July - 60 days earlier than any other platform.
It launches on PlayStation 3 on 4th September in the US and Japan and 5th September in Europe.
Meanwhile, Capcom has announced that Dragon's Dogma launches on PS3 and Xbox 360 on 25th May in Europe.
Those who pre-order the game get the Pawn Upgrade Pack (additional Rift Crystals allowing players to rent higher level experience Pawns from the outset), the Armour Upgrade Pack (high level armour) or the Weapon Upgrade Pack (high level weapons), depending on the shop you favour.
Capcom today promised post launch support with a "comprehensive suite" of DLC, including additional quests as well as weapon and armour upgrades.
Resident Evil 6 launches on 20th November.
Pre-order fantasy role-playing game Risen 2 and you get story DLC and a special in-game item.
The pre-order bonus is called Treasure Isle. In it, you embark on an "extra story questline" as publisher Deep Silver puts it, to uncover Captain Steelbeard's legendary treasure.
Treasure Isle continues a plot element from the first Risen game and "finally brings it to an exciting conclusion". It revolves around Harlok, a cook on Steelbeard's ship Elenor. Harlok stole the clues that lead to the hidden treasure. The player helps him find it.
You, along with Steelbeard's daughter Patty, travel to an unknown island that offers new environments to explore and puzzles to solve. There's treasure to loot too, of course. At the end of it all you get a legendary item, only available in the DLC, that grants a permanent stat boost.
Deep Silver said the Treasure Isle DLC is worth £8 or 800 Microsoft Points. Risen 2 launches on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 on 27th April 2012 in Europe and 24th April in the US.
The just-released Mass Effect: Deception book has gone down like a lead balloon with Mass Effect fans. The novel is apparently riddled with canonical errors.
Here are some snippets:
One fan went as far as to burn Mass Effect: Deception and video it. I can't get over how similar he looks to the actual Commander Shepard.
One explanation for the book's shoddy standards is it's not written by Drew Karpyshyn, writer of the previous three Mass Effect novels as well as lead writer of Mass Effect 1 and co-lead writer of Mass Effect 2.
Mass Effect: Deception is written by William C. Dietz.
Maybe he should stick to weight-loss books.
In reality, Dietz has enjoyed a long and prosperous career writing science fiction stories. In addition to his own works, he's adapted stories for the Star Wars licence as well as for game properties Halo, Hitman and Resistance. He even co-wrote Vita game Resistance: Burning Skies.
Technical specifications for Nintendo's next-gen Wii U console are still in flux, according to Dead or Alive 5 developer Team Ninja.
Wii U game development is "very easy" and "almost exactly like on the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360", Team Ninja revealed to NGamer magazine (thanks, Gamefront.de) in an interview discussing the Wii U version of upcoming hack-n'-slash Ninja Gaiden 3.
Nintendo has remained hush on the Wii U's final capabilities - unsurprising considering the fact that the console's abilities are "changing constantly", Team Ninja's Yosuke Hayashi has revealed.
"They asked us what we would want from the hardware, and when we give them feedback we can see that they have definitely listened and making changes," Hayashi said. "The hardware is still changing constantly."
Team Ninja's Fumihiko Yasuda added that the Wii U's touch-screen tablet controls were "similar" to those on the DS, something the team has experience with from handheld title Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword.
"We want to introduce some elements from that into the Wii U version," Yasuda added.
Nintendo confirmed this week that the Wii U will launch in Europe, the US and Japan by the end of 2012. More details are expected nearer this year's E3 trade show in June.
Several months ago Tom Francis, whom you should know from his writing for PC Gamer, went to Seattle to interview the team at Valve. When he sat down with Gabe Newell and Erik Wolpaw, something really weird happened. They asked him how his game was coming along.
His game, as it happens, was coming along pretty well. I saw a rough demo of it at around the same time, and I've just now played the newest version, which has art by John Roberts and Fabian van Dommelen, music by Ryan Ike, Francisco Cerda, and John Robert Matz, a new mission structure that ties its individual levels together in a witty fashion, and an IGF nomination for excellence in design. Newell probably wants to kick him in the nuts, frankly.
The game's called Gunpoint, and it's a stealthy action-puzzler in which you play a secret agent for hire, breaking into hi-tech buildings and stealing various cyberpunk MacGuffins. It's the future as rain-slicked corporate nightmare, but the game looks more like The Spy's Guidebook than Bladerunner. Meanwhile, with its 2D cross-sectioned levels and flashes of nasty humour, it feels a little like a grown-up version of Bonanza Bros. And that's a compliment.
At heart, it's all about screwing with systems and messing with AI guards, and it grew out of the way Francis tends to approach games as a player. "I guess I keep thinking there's some simple, efficient way to capture some of what I love in my favourite games, and try doing something new with it," he says. "I can't really make Deus Ex 4," - not with that attitude, buddy - "but I feel like I've analysed what's good about Deus Ex so many times that I can sort of isolate the principles, and come up with something I have the resources to produce that works on some of the same ones."
In Gunpoint, most of the fun comes from hacking. Armed with a tool called the Crosslink, you can sneak into your quarries' plush HQs, and rewire doors, light switches, security cameras, elevators and all manner of other elements of the environment in order to open up a path to the data terminal you've come for - or to aid you when tackling any nearby security personnel.
"That came from analysing what I like about Deus Ex and BioShock," says Francis. "I love it when games let me subvert the levels to work for me. But if you forget that it's rare for games to let you do that and if you just look at the bare mechanics, even in those games it's pretty limited. It's just turrets, cameras and doors, and the subversion is just flipping them to your side. I didn't feel like making you play a PipeMania minigame really expanded on that in an interesting way.
"I got thinking about when I used to make levels, I think it was for Quake 2, and I learned how to link up switches and doors and stuff," he continues. "You could just take any device and specify which other device it should trigger. It was a mind-blowing amount of freedom. Since that's how games work under the hood anyway, why let the level designer have all the fun? Why not give the player the power to tinker with that stuff?"
The result of all that thinking is a game in which a lot of player freedom emerges from a few basic rules: once you know how things work, in other words, you can approach your objectives in a number of ways.
Let's take a simple scenario: a two storey building with guards, security doors, and security cameras between you and the data you've come to steal. You can probably get quite a long way by sheer gymnastics alone. In Gunpoint, you use the left mouse button to charge a jump, and a simple arc shows you where you're going to land when you release it. That jump is nice and generous thanks to your Bullfrog projectile trousers, and you'll stick to walls and ceilings with no fuss, and can crawl up and down, high over peoples' heads, using your Slapstick adhesive gloves.
Traversal's been made simple and painless, perhaps, but you still feel spring-heeled and deadly. Dropping onto a standard guard allows you to pin him and then club him unconscious, as long as he doesn't see you and shoot you first, and even heavily armoured enforcers can be knocked backwards out of windows if you hit them hard enough. You can't die by falling, but they can.
That may sort out the human element, then, but those cameras and doors are still going to be a problem. Enter the Crosslink. This allows you to wire a light switch to a security door, for example, bypassing the hand scanner that only guards can use. You could also rewire the security camera to the security door, meaning you only have to step into the camera's viewing cone in order to get to your target. The interface is uncluttered and intuitive - you just drag beams of light from the object you want to act as a trigger towards the object you want that trigger to activate - and the whole system's bristling with opportunities, especially when you start to factor in enemy AI.
So if a guard is standing watch over a crucial door on the floor below you, you can use a rejigged elevator button, say, to switch his level's lights off, making him head for the nearest switch while you sneak past him. Or you could rewire the security door he's standing in front of, sending it slamming into him and knocking him out cold.
Guards are stupid but predictable - give them a specific situation more than once and they'll always behave in the same way, meaning you can toy with them more reliably. On top of that, the game throws in promising concepts like the Longshot, which lets you rewire enemy guns to other elements of the environment, booby traps, and even levels where switches are linked to different colour-coded circuits and can't be cross-wired from one set to another.
"As a player, I love any game that gives me a set of rules where the designer can't predict everything I might do," says Francis. "As a designer, I'm really enjoying creating a set of rules the player can surprise me with. They already have: testers have done hilarious things I'd never thought of, like tricking one guard into unwittingly locking another inside an office."
Gunpoint's individual levels form chains of missions that you receive from a series of clients. In between jobs there are upgrade points to spend, and a shop, where you can buy new gadgets. Most missions come with optional objectives, too: they might reward you for not killing a certain guard, say, or leaving without being spotted at all.
"I feel like the exciting part of espionage is causing a large-scale change by doing something quite subtle," explains Francis. "You never have to kill anyone, though you certainly can. And you don't have to pull off perfect stealth. If you like getting a pat on the back, though, some clients definitely prefer an agent who can get in and out without ever being seen. That turns out to be much more tense and fun than I expected: there's a silent satisfaction to using subterfuge to avoid violence entirely."
Gunpoint's current release date - and it's extremely current, if that's grammatically possible, as Francis just IM'd me with it - is "later than May". Just like Half-Life 3, then. You're going to be paying for it, incidentally, but he hasn't worked out how much it will cost yet.
What he has done, though, is build a framework for a puzzler that rewards cleverness and convoluted sadism in equal measure. JC Denton would be proud.