Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Toy Soldiers was a pleasant surprise when it hit Xbox Live Arcade in 2010, a tip-top tower defense masquerading as a tabletop wargame in a young chap's bedroom. Last Friday it made the the jump onto PC, coming complete with its two DLC packs for $10.

As well as the usual turret-based shenanigans, Toy Soldiers lets you control guns yourself, take to the skies in fighters or bombers, or jump into a tank to dish out explosions aplenty. The enemy's also far more aggressive, gleefully smashing your carefully-laid defenses.

Toy Soldiers PC is available from Steam and the Games for Windows Marketplace, using Games for Windows Live as DRM. Steam's running a 25% discount for the launch week, bringing it down to only $7.49.

The DLC packs add new mini-campaigns with extra playable armies and invading toys including knights, UFOs and robots. They cost $5 apiece on XBLA, so it's nice to get them for free.

Xbox 360 generals also get a Toy Soldiers treat, in the form of a price cut bringing it permanently down to 800 Microsoft Points ($10) on XBLA.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

After Shadowrun Returns Kickstarter hit its original fan-funding goal of $400,000 within 28 hours, it was clear the campaign for a new cyberpunk RPG had (augmented) legs. Would-be deckers, street samurai and magicians came out in force to chip in, and funding finally wrapped up on Sunday with a whopping great grand total of $1,895,772.

The Kickstarter ended at $1,836,447, with pledges via Paypal made up the rest. Hitting the $1.75 million milestone means Shadowrun Returns will have the promised Physical Adept class too, a sort of magical ninja.

Shadowrun Returns will come to PC, Mac, Linux, iPad, and Android tablets. Check out our interview with creator Jordan Weisman for chat on Shadowrun, cyberpunk, the pressures of fan-funding, MechWarrior, and more of my blather.

Shacknews - Jeff Mattas

The God of War: Ascension demo began in a rather normal fashion. At the Sony-held press event held in West Hollywood last week, game director Todd Papy--who has been involved in the series in some capacity since its first installment--began by running the teaser trailer that I'm confident most (if not all) of us in the room had already seen. "I've been there for all the God of Wars, and I can honestly say that this is the most ambitious one that we've ever done," Papy briefly commented just before the lights went down again. What unfolded on-screen next seemed familiar at first, before a twist in the proceedings blew my mind.

The live demo began with an opening shot that should be familiar to anyone who has played previous God of War games. Half of an angry-looking man's face filled the left-hand side of the screen. As the camera pulled back, my first surprise was that while the character looked very Kratos-like, different war-paint, apparel, and facial features revealed that he was not, in fact, the well-known gray-skinned angry man. Brandishing a giant sword, the warrior pulled an ornate helm over his face and began battling a cyclops. The warrior was then joined by another, who helped him gut the creature, spilling its entrails forth in a bloody mess.

After dispatching the medium-sized cyclops, the two players ran down a corridor into a giant arena-like area, where it became clear that what was being shown wasn't simply 2-player co-op (which would have been cool, in and of itself). Instead, two teams consisting of four players each (Troy vs. Sparta) battled over a couple of control points. A titan-sized cyclops chained to the surrounding area--and magnitudes bigger than the one battled at the demo's start--thrashed about in the background, occasionally smashing areas in the world itself.

Yes, God of War: Ascension will include multiplayer. Variations of modes like Domination, Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and Horde were mentioned as possibilities, but it's still being decided which of these modes (or others) will make it into the finished product, in five to seven different maps. "We're still working on that," Papy said. "For us, it's about quality, not quantity. We don't want to segregate the players too much. I think the main thing for us is that if we're going to do a Deathmatch, or we're going to do Domination, or Capture the Flag, how can we infuse God of War into that."

The mode shown in the demo was called Execution, and the 8v8 match seemed a lot like Domination, with an important distinction. In a nutshell, two teams battle for control over two points on the map. As soon as those points are controlled, the Spirit of Olympus comes down, and then the gameplay becomes "attack and defend." In the match I saw played out in real-time, the enormous, screen-filling cyclops had to be cooperatively taken down by the first team who was successfully able to seize and hold the aforementioned control points. The action was furiously paced, and seemed very much true to the series, albeit with multiple players.

God of War: Ascension's competitive multiplayer component will also feature an unlockable suite of god-specific customization options. "The whole idea behind this is that you're going from an unknown hero to a god, kind of following in the footsteps of Kratos," said Papy. "You can align yourself to one of four gods--Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, and Ares--and then from there, you're able to customize your character: Armor-sets, weapons, specials, perks, Magics, and more."

The two primary weapons shown off during the demo were a huge sword and a giant hammer. While the total number of weapons that will be available isn't being revealed yet, the two on display both had their distinct advantages and associated move-set. Certain combos revealed the presence of some sort of chain-blades that allowed players to fling each other around, but whether or not the Blades of Chaos would actually appear as a primary weapon is still to be determined. What is known, however, is that Kratos himself isn't a playable character in any of the currently-planned game modes.

"We're not doing Kratos in multiplayer," Papy said. "Basically, from our standpoint, nobody wants to be Robin [of Batman and Robin fame]. And we would have had a bunch of Robins. And I [also] didnt' want Red Kratos vs. Green Kratos vs. Yellow Kratos, or that kind of thing. That's why we came up with this mythology." That said, a suggestion of a 7-on-1 multiplayer mode in which one player plays as Kratos and other players compete to take him out seemed to intrigue Papy as a possibility.

Although God of War: Ascension's single-player component wasn't on display, Papy was quick to assure fans that the team realizes the importance of delivering the spectacular single-player prequel that's also been promised. "Single player is our bread and butter. There's no 'ifs,' 'ands,' or 'buts,' about it. That's what we're known for," he said. "But we wanted to try something new."

Speaking directly to the challenge of bringing God of War's traditionally single-player-only combat into competitive multiplayer, Papy mentioned that it's a monumental task that the team is still working on perfecting. "Taking our single-player code and making that network-safe is still something that we're working on, still wrestling with," he said. "To make sure we continue that feel of God of War with hit-pauses, or even anticipating attacks when they come in, and doing all of this attacker-side vs. defender-side so that the hits look right. That's a shit-ton of work."

I'll admit to being quite skeptical about the notion of adding multiplayer to the God of War series, but based on what I saw at the recent demo, that skepticism has morphed into excited (but cautious) optimism. The action seems to retain that trademark God of War style, and if the team is able to pull it off successfully (and by all indications, so far, they will), it could usher in a type of fast-paced, melee-driven competitive multiplayer that's never been done before. For fans of the series (like me), it could turn out to be very exciting stuff, once the game is released.

Shacknews - Tyler J. Smith

You've run out of new stories to read, listened to the latest episode of Weekend Confirmed, and still want more Shacknews? While these threads have expired, you can join thousands of other gamers as we discuss everything from videogame industry news to politics in the Chatty. Make sure you log-in and check your filters if you can't see the following:

DrWaffles discovers the absolutely amazing Valve Handbook for New Employees. If you read one thing related to videogames this weekend, make sure this is it! The booklet discusses company structure, employee hours, their creative process, to a rather amusing glossary.

Shall we play a game? lefthighkick wants a few suggestions for cooperative games to play on the PC. Rice-Rocketeer prepares a comprehensive list across several different genres, along with a short description and opinion on each. Playing through each of these with a friend or two should keep you busy for quite awhile. Impressive, most impressive.

Are there any games that coerced you into listening to more of a particular band? node wants to know, since he discovered Cypress Hill in Kingpin. MLB 2K7 introduced me to The Jealous Sound, and I've listened to them ever since.

stonedonkey remembers the golden days of vanilla World of Warcraft, complete with classic videos! Did he miss anything? What other online games have inspired great memories for you?

Milleh wants to know what Shackers think about Path of Exile versus the much anticipated Diablo 3. Have you tried either? Which do you prefer?


The Warp Zone

Welcome to The Warp Zone, where the posts are crazy and the lols don't matter.

theghostofsmdever has a conspiracy theory concerning Planetary Resources and its mission to mine asteroids and wants to know what your plans will be if it destroys the Earth. Snipergen will put his wallet to good use. Don't forget to buy an IRC license, too!

kgargs wants to know the secrets of the mighty informative tag, so sogelegos has to show him how it's done with a rather detailed theory on the history of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Telemarketers annoying you lately? FormerHPB deals with a few in style.

fienfdis will probably start a Kickstarter for his project after this thread.

Shacknews - Tyler J. Smith

Shacknews receives a slew of new screenshots and trailers for upcoming games everyday. The most anticipated titles receive their own post, because we know you're eager to see that content. For the rest, we have the Daily Filter, a place to feature all of the media we add to our enormous database on a daily basis.

Today's Filter features a choices trailer for The Walking Dead, a developer diary for Deadlight, and much more!

The Walking Dead


Deadlight


We also have a female skins trailer for Mortal Kombat Vita, a developer diary for The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition, and new screenshots for Hitman: Absolution, PlanetSide 2, and Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2. Be sure to check out additional trailers and screenshots on each game page!

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

PC gamers have long felt like second-class citizens in the Call of Duty ecosystem. However, Modern Warfare 3 has proven those fears wrong--they're actually third class citizens. Neither paid or free forms of the Call of Duty Elite service are available for PC players--despite reassurances. And none of the post-release content has yet to arrive on PC.

Well, that finally changes next month, with the release of the first "Content Collection" on PC.

The Content Collection will be available on May 8th, and it will include four multiplayer maps and two Spec Ops missions. This includes content that was initially available for paying Elite subscribers on Xbox 360 in January. The compiled "Content Collection" was made available for all Xbox 360 owners in March and PS3 owners in April. Hope you PC gamers don't mind the wait.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Besides a brief mention at E3 last year, we haven't really seen hide nor hair of BioShock Vita. We know it's a new title rather than a port of the existing games, but other than that we're in the dark. Irrational's Ken Levine says the studio's focus is on BioShock Infinite, which may explain the silence for its little sibling.

"These games really are all-consuming endeavors," Levine told Wired. "You do want to keep the ball rolling but it is tough to give it your full attention before you finish what you have. But we're getting there with Infinite. We're not as focused on the Vita game as we will be."

He also says that he felt a bit nervous about presenting an idea at E3 without anything to show for it. "I want to show you something first and then talk about it because it is tough to speak abstractly about things. I don't want to convince you, I'd much rather have the work convince you," he said. "I tried to manage people’s expectations of what the Vita game is going to be. Not because I think they're going to be bad but because I'd rather not talk like a marketing person."

"I'm fortunate that I get to hype things I really believe in, I don't have to go out and hype stuff I don't believe in. And when I'm not ready to hype it, I just don't talk much about it and that's why when people ask me about the Vita game, I just say I'm not ready to talk about it because I don't have anything to show yet."

It sounds like the Vita game is barely off the ground, and Irrational is pouring its efforts into Infinite before it makes significant progress on it. Given that Infinite isn't due until this fall, that means it will probably be quite a while until the Vita game releases.

Shacknews - John Keefer

With Crysis 3 recently announced, you need to hone those skills for the Urban Jungle. Now is the time to go back and check out the original two games in the series in case you missed them the first time around. GameFly Digital is discounting them this weekend

Crysis from Electronic Arts is only $9.99. Crysis 2 is only $5 more at $14.99, with Crysis: Maximum Edition also $14.99. All represent a 50 percent discount and are on sale through Sunday.

Another great deal is Brink from Bethesda for only $4.99 through Monday. That's 75 percent off.

Check out Alice's Weekend Deals for other savings. Now what did I do with that nanosuit ...

[Disclosure: Shacknews.com is part of GameFly Media, a wholly owned subsidiary of GameFly, Inc.]

Shacknews - Garnett Lee

What if Sony made its own take on Smash Bros? You would get PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. We get hands-on with the new brawler, and this episode has some of the first-ever video footage of the game. You won't want to miss this. Then, Rayman Legends gets leaked. Not only will you see the beautiful sequel in action, but you'll see some exciting implementations of the Wii U controller. Finally, EVE Online is being threatened by a formerly-banned player with an assault of 14,000 ships--and the game developers approve.

Check out today's episode of Shacknews Daily.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

While Activision's official reveal isn't set until May 1st, it appears the cat is finally out of the bag. This year's entry to the Call of Duty series will be Black Ops 2, a pre-order card spotted at Target reveals.

According to the promotional materials, the Treyarch-developed sequel will be available on November 13th, giving it an almost-clever release date of 11/13/12.

IGN reader "Richard" sent in the following photographic evidence:

Target reveals the next Call of Duty

Rumors have long-pegged this year's Call of Duty as a sequel to Black Ops. Could other rumors--like a possible future setting--be true as well?

...