PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Tera’s political system opens itself to exploitation, devs close the loophole [UPDATED]">TeraPolitical2







You may recall us reporting on Tera's Vanarch system a while back. It allows players to be elected to a position of power over one of the game's provinces, and do things like set taxes and spawn services like auctioneers for a fee. A recent update threw a wrench into the works when it allowed players to accumulate progress toward Vanarch-hood by PvPing in the zone they seek to rule. This has, apparently, led to certain guilds splitting into two so they can farm each other for points and far outstrip any competitors in the race for control of certain zones.



While the argument could be made that splitting a political faction down the middle and starting a fight for personal gain is just a clever tactic, many Tera players were unhappy that this method of farming for power was possible. Some on the official forums have even gone as far as to say that it could be the death of the game's community. In a response to these concerns, En Masse made it clear that they don't condone this sort of gameplay:



"We are taking these steps to resolve a GvG kill trading exploit a few guilds chose to abuse for the vanarch position. This exploit is achieved using a guild of alts, this behavior is not something we condone.



During the regular maintenance hours tomorrow morning. the GvG score of the few guilds that have abused the system will be reset to 0. We will also be reducing the maximum points that can be earned from an opposing guild per day from 600 to 100 to help with the issue.



As mentioned below, we will continue to monitor the political system and make improvements as needed."



It's an interesting choice, as Tera falls somewhere between the fenced-in fun model of games like WoW, and something along the lines of EVE, where gaming the system is part of the experience. The decision will likely set a precedent that will color how the game is perceived in the MMO community going forward.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Guild Wars 2′s final beta weekend unlocks two never-before-playable races">Asura Starter Area







The weekend of July 20th will play host to Guild Wars 2's final beta weekend, just a touch over a month before its highly-anticipated August 28th ship-date. New to this pre-release swan song will be the ability to finally play as Tyria's two previously locked races: the Asura and the Sylvari. Fans of steampunk gnomes and photosynthetic, tree-hugging elf people rejoice!



The techmage Asura will get to check out the starter quests in their home province of Metricia, which includes the capital city of Rata Sum. The Sylvari will get to explore the Grove, an appropriately foliated capital that isn't so much a city as it is a whole bunch of trees with stuff in them. These newcomers will join the existing humans, norn, and charr from previous betas to round out GW2's quintet of playable races.



Personally, I don't see the point of including any other races in a game that lets you be giant, Viking werebears. But that's just me. Which of the new races are you most interested in trying out?
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Possible Steam Summer Sale details arise">steam_summer_sale_v2







If you haven't been following the drama afflicting the PC gaming community throughout the warmer months, you may not be aware that Steam is well overdue for its annual, wallet-eviscerating Summer Sale. It's that joyous time of year when we forward our paychecks directly to Valve for lots of cheap reasons to not go outside and face the angry, merciless sun. After having heard barely a peep about its absence from Gabe and Co well into July, a Redditor named Dweezy has stumbled in out of the desert proclaiming that the time is nearly upon us.



The following list, the submitter says, comes from something called the Content Description Record Database. This is, as far as we can tell, some sort of top secret scroll or artifact guarded by enormous stone Vortigaunts that details every product and bundle sold on Steam. We have no way to confirm that these are real as of yet, but they certainly do seem to line up well with Summer Sales of ages past.



According to the thread, the sale will kick off with 11 days of indie bundles.



Day 1: Anomaly Warzone Earth, The Baconing, Cave Story+, EDGE, Lone Survivor

Day 2: Botanicula, E.Y.E, Oil Rush, Splice, Universe Sandbox

Day 3: Bit Trip Beat, Braid, Bunch of Heroes, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, Runespell Overture,

Day 4: A Valley Without Wind, Atom Zombie Smasher, Blocks that Matter, Sanctum, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP

Day 5: Audio Surf, Gemini Rue, Greed Corp, Tiny Bang Story, Ys: The Oath in Felghana

Day 6: Awesome, Defcon, Space Chem, Ticket to Ride, Trauma

Day 7: Avadon, Dungeons of Dredmor, Qube, Vessel, Zombie Driver

Day 8: Demolition Inc, Hoard, Sol Exodus, Swords and Soldiers HD, Wings of Prey

Day 9: Capsized, Jamestown, Revenge of the Titans, VVVVVV, Zeno Clash

Day 10: All Zombies Must Die, Beat Hazard, Bit trip Runner, Eufloria, Machinarium

Day 11: Hydrophobia, Orion: Dino Beatdown, Star Ruler, Waveform, World of Goo



The following bundles are also listed, though no info is given on whether they will be sale-spanning, or limited-time deals.





1C Collection Pack



Adam’s Venture Complete Bundle Retail



Anno 2070 Pack



Batman Arkham Asylum, Batman Arkham City and Batman Gotham City Imposters Bundle



Bethesda Collection (BRINK, Fallout New Vegas, Skyrim, Hunted)



Bioshock Franchise Pack



BIT.TRIP.BEAT Bundle



BIT.TRIP.RUNNER Bundle



Carpe Fulger Bundle (Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale, Chantelise, Fortune Summoners)



Civilization Collection



Command and Conquer Franchise



Dawn of War Franchise Pack



Dead Island Complete



Duke Nukem Bundle



Foreign Legion Bundle



Kalypso Collection (Tropico, Jagged Alliance, Airline Tycoon, etc)



Majesty Franchise



Paradox Collection (Magicka + dlcs, Mount and Blade, etc)



Pendulo Adventure Pack



Railworks 3 – Summer Sale Collection



Red Orchestra Franchise Pack (ROW)



S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Bundle



Saints Row: The Third Franchise Pack



Sniper Elite Franchise Pack



Square Hit Collection (Hitman, Tomb Raider, Just Cause 2, Deus Ex, Deus Ex Human Revolution, Quantum Conundrum, Thief)



Stardock Collection Pack



Strategy First Complete Pack



Sword of the Stars Franchise



THQ Collection (Dawn of War, Warhammer, Stalker, Nexuiz, Darksiders, Metro 2033, etc)



Total War: Shogun 2 Pack



Victoria Franchise



Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine Pack



Wings of Prey



 

It's possible that this is all a hoax, but the inclusion of some of the more obscure bundles (Foreign Legion, Victoria) tends to make me think otherwise. If I were a betting man, I'd say to keep your eye on Steam and see if you can get a good price for your pets and kids sometime before next week.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Green Man Gaming merges with gaming social network, Playfire">Green Man Gaming







Green Man Gaming, the independent online game shop, have announced that they'll be merging with Playfire, a social network that tracks the games you and your friends are currently playing, offering stats and badges to reward your gaming achievements. The companies won't be smushing into a single amoeba-like entity, they'll exist alongside each other, offering cross-service perks like easy access to GMG accounts from Playfire, and vice versa.



The result could provide an online store with more detailed social features than Steam, something that other competitors like EA's Origin haven't developed yet. It's tricky to make inroads into digital distribution, but Stardock's Impulse service made a concerted attempt before being absorbed by Gamestop and CD Projekt's Good Old Games has grown from a niche purveyor of classics to a more generalist game store. Can GMG/Playfire mount an assault on Steam's iron gates? It'll take a while, but a bit more competition is always healthy.



GMG managing director Paul Sulyok is certainly happy. "We’ve long been fans of Playfire – its vibrant community of gamers have bought the service to life," he says. "As part of Green Man Gaming, we’re committed to growing Playfire and building on its many successes. We’ll be working closely to introduce new features, and will unite Green Man’s consumers with Playfire’s community to offer exclusive content and incentives for members.”
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Street Fighter X Tekken review">Street Fighter X Tekken review thumb



Crossover fighting games are often just about the characters – WHAT will HAPPEN when TWO worlds COLLIDE and so on. Rarely are they true crossbreeds like Street Fighter X Tekken, a game that takes the peerless Street Fighter IV as its base but adds a huge Tekken character roster and key mechanics from Namco’s series.



Most Street Fighter games have eventually found their way to the PC, but we’ve been largely spared the winding history of Tekken. There are two key differences, which Street Fighter X Tekken has a real go at bringing together. The first is that in Tekken each button maps to a specific limb on the fighter, as opposed to Street Fighter’s six-button system of light, medium and heavy punches and kicks. The second is the importance of ‘juggling’. In Tekken, when an opponent has been hit and is in mid-air, you can follow-up with attacks that can’t be blocked and will end only when that victim hits the ground. Keeping your opponent in the air can be tricky, but it’s always possible to tag a few extra hits on.



It’s a more fluid system than Street Fighter’s more rigid hierarchy of combos. There, a snappy input pulls off a devastatingly smooth series of moves. In Tekken things are a bit messier: there are fixed high-damage combos, but it’s possible to interject other moves, especially when your opponent’s not fighting back.







This finds its way into X Tekken in a brilliant way, one of the game’s shining successes, as the ability to combo from any low-damage attack into any higher-damage attack. For example, light kick into medium punch into heavy kick will produce a combo using any character, providing you get the timing right. Not only that, but this system is the basis of tagging in and out properly – which we’ll come to in a second.



First, the rules. Street Fighter X Tekken is a 2 vs 2 fighting game, with two fighters on screen at once and the ability to tag your team members in and out. Both fighters have their own health bar, which recharges to a degree when they’re off-screen, but the first knockout on either team decides the round. Learning when to tag in and out is by far the most important trick in the early stages of SF X Tekken. Although there’s a button combination for a straight switch, it leaves the incoming fighter vulnerable for a split-second and usually means eating a mega-combo.



The name of the game is switching mid-combo, which sounds complex but is easy thanks to the ability to combo into higher-damage blows. If you execute a combo with the strength of blows ascending, the last blow will be a heavy launcher attack (fighting jargon for ‘knocks them into the air’) and after it hits the characters instantly switch out – and the incoming fighter, if swift enough, can start juggling the airborne opposition.







In full flow Street Fighter X Tekken can turn up some incredible fights. There are back-and-forth grudge matches ending in Super combos, blood-and-thunder offensives that bully opponents to death, and knockdown- drag-out wars of attrition where the final blow is a light tap on the ankle. Sometimes whole flurries are exchanged without anything breaking at all, both fighters pirouetting away from the maelstrom in a brief second of calm before charging headlong back in.



More than anything else, it’s about team play, with the fights constantly punctuated by character switches. At its simplest this means launching an enemy when low on health, and storming in with a charged-up dragon punch. Often it can be used mid-combo, if you can manage some extremely tight timings, to pull off ridiculously long strings. At its most complex, or so it seems initially, switching can mean health-bar chomping multitasking where the victim doesn’t touch the ground.



It’s the most eye-catching aspect of Street Fighter X Tekken, and it also ends up as its Achilles’ Heel. When two fighters are facing each other, poking away and looking for an opening, it plays in a similar manner to Street Fighter IV. But as soon as that first hit lands all bets are off – you could be in for a few smacks around the chops, or 30 seconds of watching your guy get battered from pillar to post without a chance of intervening.







It doesn’t sound like fun because it’s not fun. The chaining aspect of Street Fighter X Tekken’s system is implemented with a huge amount of skill, but it badly needed the brakes put on it beyond a certain stage. As it is, almost half of the online fights I have degenerate into watching my poor saps get pummelled in the corner. Rolento and Rufus are among the worst offenders, capable of turning a landed jab into an endless string of blows that regularly removes over half your health bar – and these strings are not particularly difficult to execute, which makes them incredibly common.



This is not sour grapes. I’m not amazing at Street Fighter IV, but have sunk over 200 hours into it and am well-versed in the art of losing graciously. In Street Fighter X Tekken you’re often just left watching a fight rather than participating in one. Everyone would accept that if an opponent breaches your defences, they should have the opportunity to deal some heavy damage – but here the skill ceiling is so low that almost every combo can end up being a huge one. This is a fighting game where you’re often reduced to the status of punching bag.



It’s a tremendously sad misstep, because in other ways Street Fighter X Tekken is a magnificent beast. Visually it’s an astounding achievement, with more detailed versions of Street Fighter IV’s chunky brush-textured models alongside definitive treatments of the Tekken cast. The marquee characters are superb, and Namco are going to have a difficult time topping Capcom’s Heihachi and Kazuya, never mind the sensitive transformations of characters like Hwoarang. The latter is a Tae Kwon Do expert whose style pivots on the ability to change stance in an instant, which in Street Fighter X Tekken manifests in a fluid range of combo attacks and stunning midchain switches. These characters feel worth learning, worth investing your time in.







The tragedy is that the game lets them down. There are extensive singleplayer modes to practise and refine every single technique for every character, as well as an arcade mode and countless ways to customise fighters. But if the online matches aren’t fun for us to play then all the tournaments, ranking points and video channels are just so much fluff. It’s an impressive creation, but who cares?



Don’t take that to imply this is a particularly good PC version, either. Street Fighter X Tekken is, as Capcom cheerfully admit, a functionally identical port of the Xbox 360 version. Bad enough, but the 360 version was inferior to the PlayStation 3’s in the first place, lacking local co-op play (in a team fighting game!), and your five gigabyte download includes a bevvy of characters locked until Capcom graciously allow you to buy them at some point in the future. Regardless of whether Street Fighter X Tekken is the best game in the world or not, that’s a scummy tactic – and Capcom’s money-obsessed form with Street Fighter IV suggests there’s a lot more to come.







None of this would matter if the fighting was better. There are stretches of X Tekken where it seems to work perfectly, with the right combinations of characters and similarly skilled players resulting in tense standoffs where every hit counts. But it’s never too long before the loading screen shows your opponent has picked Poison and Hugo, and you know before the fight starts that they’ve memorised these characters’ simple back-and-forth chains of combos. Those low expectations are duly realised. You should be excited when a fight’s starting, not resigned.



It feels almost incredible to say it, but Street Fighter X Tekken is a bad game. It doesn’t seem like a bad game, because everything looks amazing and in your hands the controls are fluid and punchy. But as soon as you start playing online, patterns are quickly spotted, and soon they become dominant themes. Such is the time you spend unable to influence the on-screen action that Street Fighter X Tekken just feels like a big drag.



Played offline or with a mate, this is a decent scrapper. But going beyond casual play is impossible, because Street Fighter X Tekken’s clearly deep combat system is riven by an all-consuming flaw that rapidly smothers your interest. This game was given an easy ride on consoles, but don’t be taken in. That’s not a gi Ryu’s wearing – it’s the emperor’s new clothes.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Warren Spector regrets listening to Invisible War focus testers">Deus Ex Invisible War thumb







There are two Deus Ex games. The original classic, and the brilliant recent sequel, Human Revolution. Sure back in 2004 there was an ill advised follow up called Deus Ex: Invisible War, but shortly after its release we all agreed that it never happened, and we would never speak of it again.



Warren Spector apparently didn't get that memo. Speaking to IGN during a preview of Epic Mickey he said he regretted listening to the feedback of focus testers when making the game.



“We focus tested concepts." he said "and I was told, ‘Set the game further in the future and put the guy or the girl in a purple jumpsuit; people like purple jumpsuits. Why did I listen?”



Who on earth answers a focus test with 'put the guy in a purple jumpsuit?' What kind of questionnaire even asks that? Who could possibly think that was helpful or relevant advice? The mind boggles.



Thankfully Deus Ex did eventually get the sequel it deserved, years later and without Spector's involvement. You can find out why it works in our Deus Ex: Human Revolution review.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Raspberry Pi competition to encourage young coders, $1000 prize on offer">Raspberry Pi







In case you haven't heard of the Raspberry Pi, it's a tiny, tiny card with a bit of on board memory and a couple of slots for memory and USB devices. At just $25, it's become a great device for anyone who wants to dabble in the basics of coding and writing programs. It's become a great educational tool for young IT students and tinkerers looking to gain some practical, useful knowledge about the way computers work.



To that end, the BBC note that the Pi's creators have launched The Summer Programming Contest for young coders. The foundation is offering a grand prize of $1000 and five $200 runners-up cheques to the judges' favourite programs.



Here's the challenge: "The aim of the contest is simply to produce a software Application, which runs on the Raspberry Pi computer and which impresses the Judges. Each Entry consists of an Entry Form and an archive file containing all source code, binaries and data for the Application. To enter, visit www.raspberrypi.org on or after 4 August 2012; complete an Entry Form with the required information and submit along with your archive file."



Once it's launched, entrants will have eight weeks to polish off their programs. There are two age categories, 13 and under, and 14 to 18. If it goes well, the Pi's creators want to launch weekly competitions. The Pi, and competitions like this, could be just the incentives needed to encourage the next generation of great game makers. The Pi has plenty of potential once you get to grips with a coding language. Here's a video that's been rewritten to work as a tiny, portable SNES (thanks, Wired).



PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Overgrowth update video shows objectives, brutal rabbit knife battles">Overgrowth - bringing a knife to a fistfight







It's been too long since we featured a video of a knife fight between bipedal rabbits, which is just one reason to check in on the progress of Overgrowth. Wolfire Games sandbox game about wolves and rabbits with hot martial arts skills is progressing quite nicely. The latest video update highlights the objective system that'll give players an even greater incentive to make it through fights without taking a touch.



Overgrowth's development has focused heavily on building new tech and perfecting the fluid combat system, but this is a good sign that the devs are working on turning all of that good stuff into a coherent game. Check out the latest update video below.



You get access to regularly updated alpha builds of Overgrowth if you pre-order the full game.



PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Killing Floor Summer Sideshow event adds new monsters, map and guns, has crazy trailer">Killing Floor - ohgodwhatisthat







The Summer Sideshow event has taken over co-op survival horror Killing Floor, replacing all of your traditional hideous mutants with a freakshow of carnival themed monsters like an overenthusiastic sword eater and the Fleshclown, a monster with a talent for combining words that should never be together. You can find them and shoot them so hard they never come back on a new funfair level set among cardboard façades of heaven and hell. It's called Hellride, the perfect place to try out the five new weapons added by the update, which is free to all who own Killing Floor.



The Summer Sideshow will run until July 23. To celebrate, Killing Floor is half price on Steam, but only for the next 12 hours. If you're looking for something to blast through with friends, Killing Floor is a solid choice. Up to six players can team up to survive waves of mutants on some reasonably large, open levels. You can weld doors shut to manage the flow of the horde. Once you've got them in a bottleneck, you can start using Killing Floor's ultra-satisfying arsenal to turn them into zombie paste. Everything goes into slow motion whenever you or a friend take a headshot, which lets you revel in the carnage. Getting a headshot with a handgun rarely feels this good.



Find out more on the official Killing Floor site, and get more details on the new event on the Summer Sideshow page. If there's not enough zany in your life right now this Summer Sideshow trailer will fix that pretty quickly.







And here are the Summer Sideshow guns.



PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to DayZ updates to add dogs and bear traps">DayZ







Dual class modder/Bohemia Interactive employee Dean 'Rocket' Hall has confirmed to Eurogamer that dogs are coming to DayZ. "Oh man that's just GREAT," says a man suspiciously similar to Hudson from Aliens, "I'm out of BEANS and I just got SHOT and a ZOMBIE IS EATING ME and now I gotta watch out for freakin' DOGS. That's just great, man. That's freakin' GREAT."



Hall doesn't mention what the dogs' role will be in the open words massively multiplayer getting-horribly-eaten-and-dying-in-a-ditch simulator, but does confirm that the breed will be "German Shepherd." Packs of wild dogs would be an excellent addition to DayZ, especially if they howl a eerily a bit at night. Hall says that they've been planning to add dogs, but "there's a problem with the implementation and there's been so much more that's been more pressing."



Hounds will arrive in a later patch, but the imminent 1.7.2 patch will give you a way to prepare: bear traps. They "break player and infected legs, kill animals when activated." Ouch. The new feature should be added today according to the mod team's post on the DayZ forums doesn't have a date but will hopefully arrive soon (thanks, Steamtrout). If there are bear traps, will there be bears? Absorb some of the community reaction to the bear trap news and discover why it's been so long coming in our most recent DayZ update update post.



Here are the 1.7.2 patch notes.



Changelog:

* Infected hear perfectly through objects (noise reduced by 50% through an object)

* Animal bodies despawn way too fast (now despawn automatically after 2 minutes)

* Corrupted update data causes people to spawn in debug forest (now will not save corrupted position data)

* States where animal might stop walking around (now should walk around more)

* Animal AI routines consuming large amounts of FPS (now in line with Infected AI routines, reduced FPS usage)

* Player Syncing system replaced (increased performance and ammo quantity tracking)

* Error reports are almost invisible (has now been fixed)

* Daylight calculations causing slight FPS issue

* Visibility now smoothly alters based on sun, moon, cloud, rain, and fog state

* Aubility now dampened in rain and increased by fog

* Object cleanup causing significant (huge) performance issue on servers (reduced by up to 50%, means more players + zombies possible)

* Use of "allMissionObjects" causing performance issue on clients (new engine command "entities" used to improve FPS on clients)

* Too easy to break legs due to infected (reduced probability of leg damage, reduced amount of leg damage)

* Inspection of dead bodies does not work (fix only applies with ArmA2 Beta 94033 and above)

* Exponent driven probability introduced into visibility calculation

* Hatchet/Crowbar requires reloading ( https://dev-heaven.net/issues/34903 )

* Unlimited Wire fence/Sandbag/Tank Trap Bug ( https://dev-heaven.net/issues/34283 )

* Duplication Exploit on object pickup ( https://dev-heaven.net/issues/34031 )

* Not full magazines disappear when you reconnect ( https://dev-heaven.net/issues/33998 )

* Set Bear Traps that break player and infected legs, kills animals, when activated

* Authentication process streamlined with new ArmA2 Beta commands (publicVariableServer and publicVariableClient)

* Authentication for duplicate IDs supportive of the new beta patch (ArmAX users)
...