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title="Permanent Link to Release party: Offensive Combat, I Am Weapon, Carrier Command, and more">Offensive Combat







I'm still recovering from last weekend's one-two punch of deadpan delivery and violence-tinged humor that was Dredd 3D, so I'm relieving my cratered sense of logic (seriously, how can Eomer see out of that helmet?) with a slew of indie and not-so-indie releases restoring normalcy with banana suits, majestic space cruisers, and "infuriating clowns." Read more after the break.



Browser-based multiplayer FPS Offensive Combat leaves it up to the player in determining how serious or wacky your experience gets, so expect simultaneous sightings of grim-faced soldiers and neon-green robots wearing banana suits pelvic thrusting over corpses. It's in open beta starting today.

I Am Weapon sounds like something a Psycho would scream at you in Borderlands 2, but it's really an action/tower defense hybrid including--I'm not kidding--"all types of infuriated clowns you could ever imagine! Their laughter makes you go crazy!" Grab the demo at Sigma's website.

Bohemia's Carrier Command: Gaea Mission lets you hop into the cracked leather pilot chairs of customizable flyers, divers, and tankers while managing a network of island resource chains. Grab it for $50.

Tactical terrain demolisher Cortex Command evoked a "Eureka!" out of us for its Worms-on-steroids design and the simple coolness factor of directing ant-sized troops into battle as a brain in a jar. Steam has a 10 percent discount promotion running until next Friday.



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title="Permanent Link to Hitman: Absolution trailer shows developers competing in Contracts mode">Hitman Absolution contracts







Hitman: Absolution's contracts mode will let you craft new assassination missions using single player settings. Any NPC can be elected as a target. Once you've laid out a challenge, you can share it online and challenge Agents all over the world to do it in the fastest time they can.



IO Interactive have released an 18 minute walkthrough video to show exactly how it'll all work, which also shows off a bit more of the single player levels that have appeared in previous trailers. That means we get to see Agent 47 distract a corridor full of cops using a hippy disco. Even flower power can be used to kill in Hitman.



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title="Permanent Link to The Free Webgame Round-up">webgame header crop







It's not even October yet, but the Starks were right – winter is coming. In fact (brrr), it's already here. And what better way to fend off Santa Claus, The Groke, and DCI Jack Frost than by staying indoors with a snifter of brandy, enjoying a browser game or several? This week's warming webgames include a hexy text adventure, a devilishly good puzzle game, and a boat. We'll see you on the starboard – or is it port? – side of the jump.



Demon Decimator by Pixelulsar Play it online here.







I think we can all agree that demons need to be cleansed with hellfire, regardless of how hard they try to convince you that you're having some sort of 'psychotic episode'. The latest bunch of jokers are the bats of Demon Decimator, creatures that for one reason or another are encased in plexiglass (or possibly Star Wars-style carbonite, it's not clear.) What is clear is that you need to shift them around a series of block-based environments, in the shortest time possible, and with the least number of moves. Challenge accepted.



Moving the bats involves first clicking on them, then sliding them about with the arrow keys. (Obviously, the WASD keys would have been a better fit, but it's easy enough to move your hands from one side of the keyboard to the other. Try it now. See?) However, stopping them in the right place involves moving other bats or blocks into their path – and that's where things begin to get complicated. The game becomes positively evil only a few rooms in, but like all the best puzzle games, once you finally solve each humdinger you'll be convinced that you're some kind of puzzle god. Demon Decimator comes highly recommended, then – well, unless you're a bat encased in carbonite. If you are, things are about to get crispy.



Hello world by Tim Garbos Play it online here.









Conceived for MiniLD #37 – theme: not-games or real time – Hello world is Dark Souls without the sphincter-tightening tension. Creator Tim Garbos describes it as a “collaborative storytelling experiment in an abstract 3D world”, and that's pretty much the perfect way of putting it. You're a blob, basically, and while navigating a colourful environment with light platforming elements, you can leave messages for other blobs/players to read. By the time we arrived there, the place was teeming with missives – some helpful, some profound, some funny, some incomprehensible, just like a real internet forum.



It's a wonderful idea; the only element that seems slightly off is the presence of a downvote button, something that tends to bury unpopular opinions. That small issue aside, this is one of the most interesting uses of 3D space we've seen for quite some time.



Adrift by Tyen Play it online here.







This boat simulator – now those are two words that look good together – isn't much of a game, but seeing as Adrift, too, was created for the MiniLD competition, you can hardly blame it for that. This serene experience takes both of the compo's alternate themes and runs with them, presenting a so-called 'not-game' with real time elements – specifically the time of day, which it takes from the clock on your computer. Right on cue, we loaded the game this morning to find ourselves in a dark, winter wasteland – just like real life!



You'll only spend a few minutes here at a time, but it's a good way to escape from your clingy email and twitter accounts, and have a few peaceful seconds to yourself. Plus – and this can't be understated – Adrift does a great job of capturing the atmosphere of being on a boat, with its authentic sounds and rocking movement. You might not go anywhere in Adrift, but that doesn't mean you won't be transported.



SHEXAGON by Casey Griggs Play it online here.









If you own an iThingy, then you've probably heard of Super Hexagon, Terry Cavanagh's challenging, shape-based arcade game. He hasn't brought this updated version of Hexagon to PC yet, probably as an act of kindness, but until he wises up you can always console yourself with SHEXAGON, which turns the blisteringly fast rotation-fest into a relatively sedate text adventure.



Though it's obviously a joke game, it's a remarkably well done one, with a great visual filter that evokes the curved computer screens of yore. It's a surprisingly faithful version of Super Hexagon too, and one I can actually survive for more than two humiliating seconds.



Want more? Have a look at last week’s free webgame round-up.
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title="Permanent Link to Total War: Shogun 2 Steam Workshop is live, mod tools and modders’ wiki released">Total War Shogun 2







Recent rumblings from the Creative Assembly mod summit suggested that a Shogun 2 Steam Workshop and mod tools were on the way, and now they're here! You can peruse the Shogun 2 section of the Steam Workshop to download new maps and mods right now.



On the TWCenter forums CA announce the arrival of the Total War Assembly Kit. This contains a collection of extremely useful programs for modders, including a unit editor and a campaign map reprocessor that allows for the creation of custom campaigns.



The Shogun 2 map editor has also been updated to allow users to create historical battles. The package is capped off with the launch of the Total War wiki, which will serve as a hub for information on the Assembly Kit, as well as more general Total War info.



That should tide us over nicely until Rome 2 arrives next year. You can watch the first in-game footage of the Creative Assembly's next big game while your Shogun 2 maps download. There's a massive Total War sale on Steam this weekend to celebrate. Rome is available for just one pound. ONE POUND.
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title="Permanent Link to Trent Oster suggests fan negativity may have proved “just too much” for Bioware doctors">Mass Effect 3 femshep pistolier







The outpouring of online negativity surrounding Mass Effect 3 and The Old Republic may have proved "just too much" for Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka, who left Bioware and the games industry behind a couple of weeks ago.



That's the view of former Bioware man Trent Oster, speaking to Now Gamer about the doctors' exit. “The last time I met up with , I felt his exhaustion,” Oster said. "Punch out, eject, get the hell out", was my suggestions to him and it hit closer to the mark than I had realised. I also think the Mass Effect 3 fan reaction and the Old Republic fans negativity was just too much.”



“You have to love games and you put your heart into them to create them. To have the fans creating petitions against the work is pretty hard to take, especially when you've spent the last few years crunching overtime to try and ship a game. It can be hard to shut off the overwhelming negativity the internet spews forth, especially when it has your name or the name of your company in it.”



Oster also suggests that the failure of The Old Republic may have spelled the end for Ray Muzyka's EA ambitions. “I had him pegged as an EA lifer," says Oster. "My thought was the Ray agenda was to first usurp Frank Gibeau and then later John Riccotello as CEO.”



“I'm sure the internal culture at EA had pinned the Old Republic conversion to free to play as a failure and hung that completely on Ray, so that would have hurt his upward climb. But, I figured he would fight harder. EA upper management must have been even worse than I thought.”



Trent Oster is currently the creative director on the Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition. Greg Zeschuk now plans to pursue "some personal passion-driven projects related to craft beer," while Ray Muzyka has announced that he'll be "investing in and mentoring new entrepreneurs, and more specifically, the field of social/impact investing."
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title="Permanent Link to XCOM: Enemy Unknown interactive trailer lets you take charge of the battlefield, sort of">XCOM Enemy Unknown







There are tough choices to be made as an XCOM soldier. The alarms are screaming. An alien vessel has crashed in Germany. Do you have time to finish that jammie dodger before the Skyranger lifts off? What about that hot cup of tea. Should you dunk, or not dunk? These are the crippling moments of choice that the new interactive trailer for XCOM fails to address.



You do get to see some of the options available on battlefield though. Should you execute the aliens, or zap them to paralysis so you can abduct them and see how they like it for a change? The choice is yours, Commander.



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title="Permanent Link to Steam for Linux beta due in October">Tux







There’s an update over on Valve’s Linux blog that the Steam for Linux beta is less than five weeks away, as the team there reckon they’ll have something to show outsiders running Ubuntu 12.04 or 12.10 by the end of October.



That’s the good news. The bad is that it’ll be restricted to 1,000 users for the first stage of closed testing.



The worse news, personally, is that my PC is going to be stashed in a shipping container and sailing at least two of the seven seas for most of October. Bah.



There’s no details about how to sign up for the beta yet, which will apparently include “One Valve game” - presumably Left4Dead 2. You'll just have to keep an eye out and prepare your penguins - they’re not looking for newcomers to Linux to test the initial client.



Coincidentally, I’ve been enjoying Black Mesa on a low end Ubuntu 12.04 laptop recently, using Wine to run the Windows code. Despite using Intel integrated graphics, it's running at a fairly playable rate with only one adjustment needed in the Wine control panel to enable audio. It’s ridiculously easy to set up and not a bad introduction to Linux gaming if you do fancy trying it out.



Ubuntu, on the other hand, fell out of favour last week when Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth revealed that as of the next version (12.10, also due in October) the desktop search function will add affiliate links to Amazon to results. Here's hoping Valve's plan to support other distros is coming on apace too.
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title="Permanent Link to Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord announced with tiny teaser trailer">Mount and Blade 2







Taleworlds are working on a sequel to Mount and Blade subtitled "Bannerlord" according to the teaser trailer posted on the Mount and Blade site. There are no screenshots or details at all yet, but this is excellent news nonetheless. Mount and Blade 2 promises to once again "take players on a journey into a fictional world of up-close and personal medieval combat on a huge scale, bigger, bloodier and more intense than ever before" and include "highly requested new features." Oooh, what could those be?



There is a teaser trailer, but I don't want to get your hopes up. It is just a series of dramatic statements layered over some mist. LET THE LAND BURN AND THE BLOOD FLOW.



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title="Permanent Link to Football Manager 2013 release date announced, pre-orders come with beta access">Football Manager 2013







Attention, ballfoot fans! Get out the iron and flatten out those touchline suits. The latest iteration of Football Manager will go live on Steam at one minute past midnight on November 02, and you can get in two weeks early if you pre-order from one of these places.



That's according to an announcement post on the Football Manager 2012 site, which explains that the beta version "will be very close to the final game." It'll include "FM, classic mode & challenges," but no network game. Beta saves will be compatible with the full game when it's released.



You can hear about this year's updates, and the new classic mode, from the ever-affable Miles Jacobson in our Football Manager 2013 interview. If you'd rather get the goods via your eyes have a look at the Football Manager 2013 announcement video.
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title="Permanent Link to DayZ standalone will be out this year, “and it’s going to be cheap”">dayz group







DayZ developer Dean "Rocket" Hall has been going over his plans for DayZ at the Eurogamer Expo. "It has to be out before the end of the year," he said. "Not just because we've committed to it but in order to achieve what we have to do. It has to be. There's no 'we hope it is'; it has to be.



"And it's going to be cheap. We've decided that we don't need to sell a heap of units in order for us to be OK with where it's going. The more units we sell of it the more ambitious we get, because the project has the better resources."



Hall mentioned that Valve, Eve Online developers, CCP, and Notch have expressed interest in helping out with early code, but the project has experienced a setback. The two Bohemia Interactive developers arrested for espionage in Greece were responsible for building the updated version of Chernarus that'll provide the setting for the standalone version of DayZ. "I just want to see them home," he said. "Whatever I do to see them back is important."



The fear of copycat games is one of the factors driving Hall's determination to get DayZ out quickly. An audience member asked Hall about his thoughts on WarZ, which features many obvious similarities to his mod. "Should I sue anyone who ever mentions something to do with zombie horror - will that make a better game? And the whole premise of of DayZ, and the whole premise of our development is we're going to make an awesome game. That's what we're selling. We're going to price it low and lots of people are going to play it. If we compromise on that, we're screwed."
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