Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Crytek has released an update to their CryEngine 3 SDK. Now at 3.4, the latest version of the middleware engine promises a number of updates that promises to "increase the creative power at developers' fingertips." For us gamers, though? It promises to make games just a tad bit better.

The main highlights of the 3.4 update include revamped DirectX 11 tessellation, advanced character rendering options, and an improved AI system.

For more details on the SDK update, you can visit Crytek's official website. You can also download the free SDK from us right here if you want to check out the new features for yourself.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 carry the dubious distinction of being the first main series Pokemon games to carry a numbered sequel. The announcement even called them "Version 2," so it's fair to wonder how much new content will be included. Some new details from a Japanese magazine shed more light on that subject.

Coro Coro Comics (via Andriasang) reveals that character Akuroma, a mysterious Pokemon researcher. The game will also introduce new gym leaders, two of which were detailed in the magazine. Homika will focus on poison-type Pokemon, while Shizui is a water-type master.

The game features a new area called Hiougi City, to the south of the Isshu region. The game will be set in that region like the original Black and White, so we may see some locations repeat. The game is due on June 23 in Japan, and later this fall in North America.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

United Front's Sleeping Dogs, the open-world crime 'em up formerly known as True Crime: Hong Kong, has been dated for August 14. As ever, there are a variety of retailer-exclusive pre-order bonuses to thrill, confound, and irritate.

Pre-order bonuses for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 editions include exclusive outfits, vehicles, missions, and, oddly, clobber and moves inspired by MMA fighter Georges St. Pierre. Check out the Sleeping Dogs site for more on what you get where.

Goodies for the PC edition are to be announced "at a later date," publisher Square Enix says.

Here's a recent look at some vehicular Hong Kongfoolery:

Shacknews - Steve Watts

It's hard to find a current generation series with more goodwill than Portal. Anything even tenuously connected to Valve's first-person puzzler will probably have good vibes extended to it. In the case of Quantum Conundrum, a game from Portal designer Kim Swift with some striking similarities, that goodwill has resulted in plenty of attention. And while it seems to have all the pieces in place, a hands-on with the PAX East 2012 demo only scratched the surface of what this concept can accomplish.

The puzzle element in this particular first-person title comes from various dimensions, each with its own physical properties. The Fluffy dimension turns everything light and plush, the Heavy dimension does just the opposite, and so on. It's an easy idea to grasp at its core, and that simplicity could make for a staggering amount of puzzle applications.

This demo showed off three of the dimensions: Fluffy, Heavy, and Slow-Mo. An introductory puzzle had me blocking a deadly laser by picking up a Fluffy safe, and then turning it into a Heavy safe. From there, I had to time the Heavy/Fluffy change to allow a laser to destroy some safes in a stack, but not others, in order to make a staircase. This was the most difficult part of the demo, but that was due to its precision timing, not figuring out what to do. Finally, the demo played with some Slow-Mo, as machines spit out furniture haphazardly and various "bubbles" of the slow-motion effect made them mountable as platforms.

A look at the game provided a nice breadth of the dimensions, but it only provided the basics of each of them. I would have liked to see hints of more complex iterations for one or two dimensions, rather than the absolute basics of three. It's possible that developer Airtight Games didn't want to overwhelm the player, which is understandable. Still, this is a game that will live and breathe on brain-teasers. I'm confident that Swift and her team can pull it off, but I'd like to have seen more of it on display here.

The world is well-realized and funny, thanks in no small part to the sharp dialogue and delivery by John de Lancie. The spirit is more chipper and animated than the darkly humorous Portal, so I can imagine it being a good fit for younger players as well -- especially since the protagonist is 12 years old himself. I also noticed that the furniture looked large as a matter of perspective, which was a nice touch for seeing the world through the eyes of a kid.

In many ways, Quantum Conundrum feels like Portal's little brother. It's cuter, more colorful, relies on broader comedy, and judging by the demo, it may be a bit easier as well. This simple taste may have wanted to ease us in for more complex puzzles. If not, an easier, kid-friendly puzzle experience with this much personality can't hurt.

Shacknews - Garnett Lee

Andrea, the two Jeff's, and Garnett waste no time getting right to all the new info on Resident Evil 6, Lost Planet 3, and Devil May Cry coming out of Capcom's recent press event. They also have a few quick updates from a similar event held by Namco that unveiled a PC version of Dark Souls and provided an update on the status of a western release for Ni No Kuni. We also get a first look at FEZ and Andrea shares some of what she saw at PAX East, including the awesome-sounding indie, Super T.I.M.E. Force. There's much more along the way as well before putting the Finishing Moves on this episode.

Weekend Confirmed Ep. 108: 04/13/2012

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If you're viewing this in the GameFly application, you can play Weekend Confirmed Episode 108 directly.

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Weekend Confirmed comes in four segments to make it easy to listen to in segments or all at once. Here's the timing for this week's episode:

    Show Breakdown:

    Round 1 00:00:30 â€" 00:27:50

    Whatcha Been Playing Part 1 00:28:25 â€" 00:56:28

    Whatcha Been Playing Part 2 00:57:19 â€" 01:25:33

    Listener Feedback/Front Page News 01:26:29 â€" 01:56:11

Jeff Cannata can also be seen on The Totally Rad Show. They've gone daily so there's a new segment to watch every day of the week!

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Weekend Confirmed @WeekendConfirmd

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Remember to join the Official Facebook Weekend Confirmed Page and add us to your Facebook routine. We'll be keeping you up with the latest on the show there as well.

Original music in the show by Del Rio. Get his latest Album, The Wait is Over on iTunes. Check out more, including the Super Mega Worm mix and other mash-ups on his ReverbNation page or Facebook page, and follow him on twitter delriomusic.

Shacknews - John Keefer

Deckard Cain has always been available in the Diablo games to offer sage advice, words of wisdom and tell of Sanctuary's involvement in the eternal fight between good and evil. The Book of Cain puts this wealth of knowledge in one place, and now Blizzard has revealed a small portion of that tome.

The Archangel Tyrael is the focus of the unveiled portion of the tome, a carrot offered by Blizzard to fans as a way to tell more people about Diablo 3 and interact with the "Darkness Falls, Heroes Rise" web site. With every 10 percent (Blizzard calculates through some obscure method), a new item is revealed. This portion of Cain's book was the 20 percent reveal.

Cain offers a few insights into the Archangel of Justice and his growing conflict with the Angiris Council because of Tyrael's insistence on interfering in mortal affairs and even fighting on their behalf. The excerpt talk of Cain's admiration for the angel, but colors it with the caveat that people should judge for themselves.

The 10 percent reveal was a chat with three of the key developers on Diablo 3, although the video was made more than a year ago based on comments that it was spring and they were looking to release the game later in 2011. But you can pull a few tidbits from it below.

It shouldn't be long before Blizzard unveils a new class video, as they already did with the Demon Hunter and Barbarian.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Valve Software's esoteric research has spread to making hardware, with a job listing seeking an electronics engineer to work with its team on designing and producing actual physical things. "We're not talking about me-too mice and gamepads here," Valve says, "help us invent whole new gaming experiences."

The lucky engineer's job will be, the listing (via VG247) says, to "Work with the hardware team to conceive, design, evaluate, and produce new types of input, output, and platform hardware."

One potential avenue is biometrics, which Valve has been interested in for several years. In 2008, co-founder Gabe Newell mused about measuring players' brain activity with EEG scans, to see how they react to games. Dota 2 can track the pulse rate of players hooked up to the appropriate gizmo, too.

It had been rumoured in March that Valve was working on a 'Steam Box' standardised PC, but the company has denied that, saying it's simply building test PCs for Steam's Big Picture mode.

"We're also doing a bunch of different experiments with biometric feedback and stuff like that, which we've talked about a fair amount," Valve's Doug Lombardi said at that time. "All of that is stuff that we're working on, but it's a long way from Valve shipping any sort of hardware."

Or they could be hiring for something entirely new and wonderful.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Star Wars: The Old Republic seems to have faded from the collective gamer consciousness a bit. Not coincidentally, BioWare has announced various perks coming alongside the new Legacy 1.2 update, which seem squarely aimed at attracting new players and bringing old ones back into the fold.

A post on the Legacy update details the perks. For one thing, players who reached level 50 by the time the Legacy update launched are receiving 30 days of free game time. Plus, former subscribers can come back to play for free between now and April 19. This is far from switching to fully free-to-play, but these moves could be the first salvos in that direction -- especially since BioWare hasn't ever ruled out a F2P model.

If you're not a lapsed player or a level 50, you still get a bonus from the Legacy update. Any active subscribers or new purchasers before April 21 at 12 PM CDT will get a tauntaun pet. Lapsed players can also get the pet for re-upping their subscription. Warning: we're told that tauntauns smell bad on the outside.

The update adds family trees to the mix, letting you unlock bonus items and abilities for linking your characters through lineage, along with a new Flashpoint, Warzone and Operation: Explosive Conflict in Denova, UI customizations, end-game crafting, guild banks, and combat logs.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

The original Orcs Must Die! was a surprise hit. It came late to the Tower Defense party, but breathed new life into it with a combination of style and third-person action. But orc genocide is never done, so Robot Entertainment recently announced Orcs Must Die! 2, featuring co-op, a new character, and tons of tweaks

We can't say that Robot keeps us waiting, either, because the game has already had its first public showing and is due this summer. My hands-on at PAX East 2012 was brief, but showed plenty of lessons learned from the first game. Considering how fun and original OMD was, that's saying something.

The addition of co-op, and the new Sorceress character, are obviously the largest changes. The Sorceress sports a faster long-range weapon, along with an alternate fire that makes orcs turn on their comrades. Though the demo only included a few basic classes of orcs, I'm already itching to use that power on stronger enemies and watch them lay waste to the underlings. She felt more of a natural fit for my play style; I would generally rely more on traps as the War Mage in the first game, but this gave me more incentive to get my hands dirty more often.

It's conventional wisdom that co-op makes everything more fun, but in the case of OMD2, it feels absolutely vital. The first game was occasionally frustrating when tending to multiple pathways, traps, and third-person action would get too difficult to manage by yourself. A second player is a simple step to alleviate that issue. Players can split up the pathways, or stick together to heal each other and watch their backs. It's a natural fit for the game.

A few other changes may thrill or disappoint, depending on your play style. The Weavers are gone from this second iteration, for one. As someone who saw the Weavers as a smart way to create one's own play style, I'll simply have to trust Robot's judgment. Their absence is supposed to be compensated for by more traps, and more variation in the upgrades to those traps. Meanwhile, some traps are being altered for balance or outright replaced, like bringing in the triggered Ice Trap instead of the the continuous effect Tar Trap.

Many of the changes, especially the addition of the Sorceress, seem to be aimed at making the game a smoother experience. The debuffs to certain traps or removal of the Weavers should strike the delicate balance that keeps the intensity of angry orc waves, without feeling too overwhelmed.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

You may not associate Nintendo's bubbly, kid-friendly tone with sports, but the company has been exploring those avenues for years with moves like the Mariners-tested "Fan Network" on the Nintendo DS. Now the 3DS is getting its own sporting focus, with highlights available through the Nintendo Zone starting tomorrow.

By connecting to a Nintendo Zone location, you'll be able to find basketball, baseball, and soccer videos from sources like NBA Digital, MLB.com, and Barclays Premiere League from FOX Soccer. The selection will be updated weekly with new highlights, top 10 plays, and weekly round-ups. Plus, you'll be able to view 3D images of the sporting events, and save them in your 3DS memory.

Nintendo Zone is the company's name for special wifi access points in restaurants, hotels, airports, and malls. The service launched last year, offering playable demos, coupons, trivia, information, Pokemon episodes, and soon, sports highlights.

"Nintendo 3DS owners will now get access to their favorite sports content at thousands of Nintendo Zone locations across the country," said director of strategic partnerships Zach Fountain, in the announcement. "With video highlights, weekly recaps and exclusive 3D collectible images, fans can connect with their sports passion as they carry their Nintendo 3DS."

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