PC Gamer
If you were planning to grab a copy of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City this weekend to calm your nerves following a week of GTA V hysteria, then you're out of luck. In a statement, Rockstar Games has confirmed that Vice City has been temporarily removed from digital PC outlets.

"Due to some music licensing issues, we've had to temporarily remove Vice City PC from digital stores. We'll make it available again as soon as possible," the statement read. After a little bit of sniffing around, Cinema Blend has established that it's probably Sony Music Entertainment causing the problems with a claim on 'Wanna be Startin' Something' by Michael Jackson.

The temporary removal shouldn't affect the forthcoming iOS version of Vice City. Thanks to Game Informer for the tip.

It's highly unlikely, but if you haven't seen the GTA V trailer yet you can do so here, but there's still no PC release confirmation. For a selection of hilariously inane responses to the trailer, this Tumblr blog has you covered.

PC Gamer
Primal Carnage T-rex

Lukewarm Media announced today the first DLC for its outrageous multiplayer dino-thon Primal Carnage, craftily titled "Get to the Chopper," breaks out of its cage later this month. Presumably lacking musclebound Austrians politely reminding you to board flying contraptions naow, Get to the Chopper nevertheless adds a new mode for hungry, hungry dinosaurs and tiny, tiny humans to roar and Wilhelm scream at each other, respectively.

Like Left 4 Dead, Get to the Chopper tasks humans with barreling down a linearly constructed path to an awaiting chopper at the end. Instead of special infected, the opposing team fields a dino defense in the hopes of stopping escapes by way of impromptu human snacks. The mode's design certainly affords great tug-of-war moments through ambushes and coordination, especially during the last panic-filled moments of the homestretch after locking sights on your escape. Unlike Left 4 Dead, dinosaurs aren't as smelly as zombies. We think.
PC Gamer
the international

The International 2 was Valve's second-annual tournament for Dota 2. Even with the game still in beta, a $1.6 million prize pool (with $1 million awarded to the champs) was dangled before teams, a purse exceeded in eSports only by League of Legends' Season Two Championship.

To coincide with the tournament, which took place at PAX Prime during the days connecting August and September, Valve commissioned a documentary that finally released today. The video features interviews with the 16 teams who competed, following them from the preliminary stages (held at Valve's offices) through to the finale itself.

What a strange, happy thing it is to have two technically independent developers--Valve and Riot Games--trying to out-spectacle one another as eSports. Though technical issues and instances of cheating slightly soured the League of Legends' Season Two Championship, it was a delight to watch. We're gaming in an exciting time, aren't we?


The Dota 2 YouTube channel has plenty of other video bits and interviews from The International 2, if you're hungry for more.
PC Gamer
Hawken cockpit

Adhesive Games and digital comics publisher Comixology probably touched upon the very essence of geekdom when they concocted an offer involving viewing colorful pictures of robots blowing each other up to access actual gameplay of robots blowing each other up. Downloading the free first issue of Hawken: Genesis not only offers an expository primer of the backstory behind why everyone turned so trigger-happy, it also gets you a code for the third and final closed beta event starting November 20. Have they no sense of restraint?

The graphic novel series releases in full in March 2013, but the first issue is an excellent chrome-flavored taste of the planet Illal's identity in the grand scheme of Hawken's bipedal ballistics. You'll need to register an account with Comixology to nab the actual download, but it thankfully doesn't require credit card info or anything of a monetary nature.

Hawken rolls out December 12.
PC Gamer
Dragon Age 3 concept art shot

BioWare waxed artistic at the Animation Festival held at the UK's Bradford University yesterday (via Eurogamer) as part of a discussion charting the progress of gaming art throughout the years. It's certainly come a long way from poking a couple of dots into a face-shaped blob, but BioWare Art and Animation Director Neil Thompson focused more on how both painting pixels better and the meaty Frostbite 2 engine led to the Dragon Age 3 concept art snapshot he flashed upon the screen for all of three seconds.

The blurry image's contents seemingly show a figure with an altitude superiority complex hailing a cab in the middle of The Shire, but it's probably nothing more than an rustic Orlesian landscape. Still, I squinted really hard. For glory.

Thompson extolled DICE's Frostbite engine as a catalyst for greater artistic freedoms when rendering conceptual sketches, saying, "Dragon Age was done on the proprietary Eclipse engine. I think anyone who played Dragon Age 2 would agree that engine was starting to creak a little bit by the time that was released. Obviously, Frostbite is the Battlefield engine built by DICE. It's a beautiful, beautiful engine. And what we've found is an improvement with DA3, and the artists who were really battling with the Eclipse engine have just embraced Frostbite.

"The work they're doing now is stunning. I think the screenshot I showed earlier is pretty amazing. That's unusual for pre-production. Usually you don't get to that kind of quality until a week before gold master."

We learned earlier this week that Dragon Age 3's crop-topped brother Mass Effect 3 also equips Frostbite in its Engine slot, but BioWare hasn't elaborated yet on how exactly it's utilizing the punchier pixels. For Thompson, it's a breath of fresh, lens-flared air.

"It makes my job easier because then it's all about discussing the aesthetic and what you want to achieve," he explained. "When you're a character artist or an environment artist, you're focusing on a small aspect of the greater whole of the game. As an art director, you're concerned about the whole, the frame, and everything it contains and how everything sits and the consistency. An engine like Frostbite allows you to focus more on that rather than the technological challenges of just getting the damn thing to run."
PC Gamer
Featured Britain

Over the course of my Crusader Kings Chronicle, I built up a dynasty that jockeyed for power across the middle ages. Paradox's sister series, Europa Universalis, picks up in the late 1400s where Crusader Kings leaves off and gives you the entire world (instead of just the medieval Eurosphere), the Renaissance, and the Age of Exploration to play with. I had a chance to explore Europa IV, due out in the second half of next year, which looks to bring the grand strategy series' trade, warfare, and politicking up to modern spec.

I didn't have more than cursory experience with Europa when I sat down in front of the massive world map. As a Crusader Kings player, it looked familiar... except that the world didn't stop with a box mostly consisting of Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. The entire world is rendered in 3D, including some shiny new water effects and ships that move along major trade routes in real time. Most of the Americas, sub-Saharan Africa and Australia are initially labeled as "Terra Incognita," a more educated-sounding version of "Here Be Dragons." Part of the game will be sending out explorers to wash away this fog of war and replace it with the names of native provinces to exploit and conquer.

Or, if you prefer, you are fully permitted to start as, say, the North American Shawnee Nation, and try to build a strong and independent empire that points and laughs at actual history. The devs said that such a task won't be easy, and they wouldn't recommend it for a starting player. The game is called Europa Universalis after all. But there's nothing stopping you from trying. In my book, that's grounds for a "Challenge Accepted."

The other big difference from Crusader Kings is that you play as a nation and not a dynasty. This means that no matter who comes to power, you will always remain the "disembodied guiding hand" of your chosen empire. Some playable countries will have monarchies with lines of succession, while others function as republics with elected leaders. While you won't play as your head of state, they will still have a significant impact on how your empire functions. A king who is a great military commander will give you bonuses for fighting and conquering. When his son, who is a bit of a pansy, succeeds him, you'll probably want to transition to focus more on trade and internal infrastructure.

I was pretty impressed with EU IV's trade system, come to mention it. The world is streaked with land and sea trade routes that bring wealth to your nation. The catch is that these trade routes branch at certain places, and which "branch" gets the lion's share of the cash flow is determined by who has more influence in the region where the diversion occurs. The concept of trade bottlenecks is also significant: a relatively small nation that controls the one trade route between two wealthy regions can become filthy rich despite their size. Denmark and the Netherlands provide two notable, real-world examples. On top of all of this, establishing colonies in the New World gives you a new, lucrative, trans-oceanic trade route.

Also of note is the introduction of "rebels with a cause." Rather than just a stack of malcontents who want to ruin your save file and chew bubble gum (and bubble gum hasn't been invented yet), opposition factions within your borders will have clearly-stated goals which you can of course cave in to and make them go home. It seems to be sort of an evolution of the Faction system introduced to Crusader Kings II in the recent Legacy of Rome DLC. Examples I was presented with included ethnic natives of conquered territories demanding more autonomy, and of course the crapstorm sure to ensue when the Protestant Reformation event rocks the balance of Catholic Europe.

Europa IV looks to be shaping up to be a deep, multi-dimensional, open-ended grand strategy title that will require at least 45 minutes of YouTube videos to figure out what the hell you're supposed to be doing. And that's just the way I like it.
PC Gamer
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Search Preferences

I haven't experienced any ping-related dysfunction in Black Ops 2 multiplayer yet, but to stay safe, here's a quick tip which may improve your matchmaking connections.

In the Online > Public Match > Find Match screen, there's a sneaky little "Search Preferences" option camping in the lower-right corner. It defaults to "Normal," which finds a balance between connection quality and matchmaking speed, but I've found that switching it to "Best" doesn't affect how quickly I can join matches. It also doesn't affect how quickly I can join the dirt, where I often curl up for naps under a blanket of bullets kindly provided by whoever just bunny hopped around a corner and surprised me.

Want to know what we thought of the game? Head to our Black Ops 2 review and join the divisive comment argusation.
PC Gamer

On February 16th, Blizzard's eSports organizers kicked off the year-spanning World Championship Series for StarCraft II. Hundreds of players from dozens of countries have battled through local qualifiers, national playoffs, and finally continental championships to make it to Shanghai this weekend for the tournament to end all tournaments. 32 players from every corner of the globe remain, but only one will go home with the title of global champion.

Places in the World Championship were awarded to the national champions of China, France, Germany, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, Canada, and the U.S., along with varying numbers of the highest seeds from each continental championship.

Player portraits from WCS Official Site.

The South American Champion is Felipe "KiLLeR" Zuñiga of Team Dignitas, from Chile. Before this year's WCS, he was most known for his 2v2 play along South Korean teammate SeleCT.

The North American Champion is Sasha "Scarlett" Hostyn of Team Acer, from Canada. She is the most successful female player in the history of StarCraft II, having pulled a major upset at the Canadian and North American finals, unseating several well-known pros.

The Oceanic Champion is Andrew "mOOnGLaDe" Pender of Team Nv, from Australia. A former pro WarCraft III player (in case the name didn't give it away), he has been active in the Wings of Liberty scene from the beginning, but just this year has become a figure in the international scene.

The European Champion is none other than Ilyes "Stephano" Satouri if Team EG, from France. Stephano among the handful of non-South Korean players who is seen as able to play on the level of that country's best. He was offered a spot in the prestigious GSL Code S earlier this year, but elected to turn it down.

Finally, the Asian champion is SK Telecom T1's Jung "Rain" Yoon Jong of South Korea. Despite never placing higher than third in the GSL, he managed to fight to the top of the most competitive national championship of them all.

Other notable players include 2-time MLG champion Chris "HuK" Loranger from Canada, American "bad boy" Greg "IdrA" Fields, StarTale's Won "PartinG" Lee Sak from South Korea, and Spanish brothers Pedro "LucifroN" Durán and Juan "VortiX" Moreno Durán, who became the talk of the European Championship when they both advanced to the semifinals and ended up facing off in the loser's bracket.

This is about as close as we can get to having StarCraft in the Olympics. Which nation and which players will win glory on the battlefields of the Korprulu Sector? You can tune into the free livestream starting November 16 at 6:00 p.m. PST and find out!

Oh yeah, and there will be World of Warcraft Arena.

PC Gamer
Dishonored chronic shoulder pain

Oh, bother. Gentlemanly royal bodyguard Corvo Attano seems afflicted by a rather sadistic streak while slaying his way across Dishonored's Dunwall. Bethesda collected a slew of player-submitted creative murders, kills, and assassinations into nearly three minutes of cat-and-mouse, oil-tank candy trails, grenade sniping, and other custom combos, impressively proving how much I suck at this game by comparison.

Check out a fearless player's base-jumped air-stab around the 2:25 mark. Kudos to Bethesda for branding the video with a straightforward title instead of—as one YouTube commenter put it—"~xXx+NoSc0pE-MLG-PrO-RzRwIrE-K­1LLsTr3aK+xXx~."
PC Gamer

BioWare's story-driven MMO from a galaxy far, far away, Star Wars: The Old Republic, is available for no credits starting today. Free players will be subject to some restrictions, but it's worth noting that the entirety of all eight class stories, running from level one to level 50, are available without dropping a cent. So if you're only really interested in the KotOR 3-ish content, you shouldn't have to worry about the siren call of the cash shop.

If you haven't been following the continuing saga behind this transition, you can read about how the new business model is going to work, and how the restrictions on free players were tweaked thanks to community feedback. And if you're among those who just can't cope with this change, maybe this will make you feel better.

Let us know in the comments if you're planning on returning to TOR or checking out for the first time now that it's, you know, free.