Shacknews - Steve Watts

The second and final roster update for Tekken Tag Tournament 2 has been released, completing the set of characters that were discovered on-disc in September. These come alongside four characters previously only available for those who pre-ordered the game.

The PlayStation Blog gives word that Dr. Boskonovitch, Unknown, and Violet have gone live. The characters Ancient Ogre, Angel, Michelle Chang, and Kunimitsu were previously for pre-orders only, but have now been made available for all players. Slim Bob, Sebastian and Miharu Hirano were made available in October. Each of the roster updates are free.

In the case of Tekken, extra characters are being used to extend the life of the game rather than generate revenue. Tekken producer Katsuhiro Harada has decided that the series won't sell DLC characters, seeing them as too vital to the balance of the game. True to his word, each of these roster updates has been free.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Nyooooom! That's not the sound of a Need for Speed: Most Wanted demo hitting Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, because downloads don't make noises beyond the very faint buzzing of electrons inaudible. Press your ear close to your console and you may just hear it, as EA released a single-player slice today.

The demo packs four vehicles, each with their own races, challenges and unlockable mods. It's out now on the Xbox Live Marketplace as a 1.2GB download for, as ever, Gold members initially, and should arrive for all on PS3 in tonight's PlayStation Store update.

Speed Points you rack up in the demo, which are used to unlock vehicle mods and other jazz, will also carry over the full game if you buy it, up to a cap of 50,000.

Single-player may not be the main draw of Most Wanted, as our Jeff noted in his review, but this'll let you get a taste of the open-world racer from the gang behind Burnout Paradise. Look, it's pretty much a new Burnout.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Next week is a big one for the PS Vita. Aside from PlayStation Plus being added to Sony's handheld, the device will also be updated to version 2.0. Whole numbers tend to pack the biggest changes, and this one is no exception.

The firmware update will add e-mail functionality for Gmail and Yahoo users. You'll also be able to wirelessly transfer content between the Vita and PC. When playing PSone games, players will be able to assign controller buttons to the touchscreen, rear touch pad, and buttons with "select games." There will also be a "custom screen mode option for flexible screen size adjustment" on select PSone games.

The browser has also been updated, with improved HTML 5 and Java support. The update will be live on November 19th.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Sony's premium subscription service PlayStation Plus will spread to Vita next Tuesday, Sony announced today. The cracking launch lineup of 'free' games just adds fuel to the idea that, really, you'll be perfectly happy not buying PlayStation games but simply waiting for them to hit Plus.

When Plus hits Vita on November 19, members with Vitas will get free access to Wipeout 2048, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Jet Set Radio, Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions, and Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack, Sony announced.

If you're already a Plus member on PS3, you won't have to pay a penny more as the scheme covers both consoles. If you're not, Plus costs only $17.99 for three months for $49.99 for a year. "The PlayStation Plus Instant Game Collection is such an incredible value, providing PS3 and now PS Vita owners with a library of 18 games for less than $5 a month," Sony VP John Koller said in the announcement.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Medal of Honor: Warfighter wasn't exactly a breakout success. Despite bugs, poor reviews, and a high-profile scolding from military brass for Navy SEALs involvement, EA has committed to continued support of the military shooter. The map pack based on the film Zero Dark Thirty is still coming next month, and a new developer diary shows off its environments.

We get a closer look at the two maps, the Chitral Compound and Darra Gun Market, complete with commentary from art director Chris Salazar. It's set to release December 17 for $9.99, with a portion of the proceeds going towards nonprofit veterans organizations.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is a futuristic take on warfare, but not quite this futuristic. Scattered buyers from all around the gaming community have claimed that in their PC copies of Black Ops 2, the second disc actually contains Mass Effect 2 data.

Players have talked about the problem on Reddit, Steam, and the Call of Duty forum (via Eurogamer), among others. The disc appears as it should, like a Black Ops 2 disc, but inserting it during the install process reveals its data as belonging to Mass Effect 2.

It's unknown how widespread this issue is, but it seems to be impacting PC copies only. This means affected users can't finish the install process for the game.

Obviously, Activision wouldn't have intentionally included data from an Electronic Arts game, so this problem probably stems from the production line. Shacknews has contacted Activision and will update as more information becomes available.

In the meantime, check out our review of the game for more information.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

The Zerg will rush onto PC and Mac in StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm on March 12, 2013, Blizzard announced this morning. The expansion will come in three editions, ranging from $40 to $80 depending on how much extra gubbins you want with your sci-fi RTS.

$40 gets you the bog standard regular edition, which simply contains the video game you'd like to play. $60 bags you the download-only Digital Deluxe version, which includes a Baneling pet for World of Warcraft, the 'Torrasque' skin for your Ultralisks, Zergy Battle.net portraits and decals, plus Kerrigan's wings and a Zerg sigil for Diablo 3 characters.

Or for $80, the physical Collector's Edition packs all that stuff plus a 144-page hardcover art book, Zerg mouse mat, soundtrack CD and a "behind-the-scenes" DVD.

The second part of the StarCraft 2 trilogy focuses on those naughty Zerg and the newly de-Zergified ghost Sarah Kerrigan's attempts to control them. Along with a new single-player campaign, it adds new units for every faction in multiplayer, and buffs up Battle.net multiplayer with jazz like a leveling system.

Pre-orders for the regular digital and Digital Deluxe editions are due to open today.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

One of the world's finest downloadable content releases is The Wavy Tube Man Chronicles, The Gunstringer's gleefully silly Mad Dog McCree-style interactive gunslinger movie starring Troma mastermind Lloyd Kaufman. The Wavy Tube Man cannot be constrained by mere platforms and DLC shackles, though, and is breaking out onto Windows 8 in a standalone release.

It's "coming soon" to the Windows Store for Windows 8 PCs and tablets at the remarkably bargain-tastic price of $1.49, developer Twisted Pixel announced yesterday. The DLC was included with new copies of The Gunstringer as a free download on Xbox 360 in 2011, an unexpected treat.

Look, here's a bit of Wavy Tube Man Chronicles someone captured on Xbox 360, but don't watch too much or you'll ruin the shock of a time-travelling Lloyd Kaufman in a silver bodysuit.

Shacknews - Devin Connors

It's November, so three events are sure to happen, come Hell or high water: Thanksgiving, the beginning of the college basketball season, and the release of a new Call of Duty game. Activision's latest annual release, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, is an invigorating story-driven look at future war, marred ever so slightly by aging technology driving the game.

Black Ops 2 is a tale of two Masons, tied together by characters old and new. If you've played the original Black Ops back in 2010, then you already know Alex Mason, the protagonist who chased Dragovich and Kravchenko to the ends of the Earth. This time around, Mason's missions stretch across the 1980s, from Afghanistan to Panama, as he fights Cold War-era Russians, MPLA forces in Angola, and other foes through time. His son David fights in 2025, where he's followed in his father's footsteps. This isn't his daddy's Cold War, however; China is the new power standing toe-to-toe with America, and the world finds itself in a new, but familiar position. Proxy battles still exist, but they're now complimented by cyber warfare and PMCs (Private Military Contractors). David finds himself on these proxy battlefields, much like his father several decades earlier, while dealing with advanced weaponry and fleets of drones coming from all sides.

The story is one of the most interesting in the Call of Duty series to date. An amalgamation of historical fiction and a surprisingly believable take on our world's future, game director Dave Anthony and writer David S. Goyer successfully manage to capture the franchise's Hollywood polish whilst mostly avoiding "that's impossible!" moments.

The futuristic setting affords the game some fantastic equipment to play with. Everything falls into two distinct categories: natural progression or prototype-turned-reality. The FA38 fighter, for example, is inspired by the F-35 fighter currently used by the US Air Force and Navy. The fictional M8A1 assault rifle doesn't look too dissimilar from the XM8 platform, and there are plenty of real weapons in the game as well (AN-94, M27, AK-47, etc). The flip side of that coin is the copious amounts of future tech and weaponry, like the Storm PSR (it's like the railgun in Eraser, but smaller), target-identifying scopes, wall-climbing palm-sized spider drones, active camouflage, and nanomachine-infused rock climbing gloves. None of these things are used on the modern-day battlefield, but they all represent technology that our soldiers will likely use in a generation or two.

While the new weapons introduce some interesting new gameplay mechanics, some make the campaign a cakewalk. The target finder scope, for example, removes the need to find your enemy. Instead, you're simply looking for a red square around vague life forms off in the distance. The Storm PSR is the worst offender. Like the Farsight railgun in Perfect Dark, the Storm highlights enemies, including those behind several cars or thick concrete walls, and pulverizes them. The missions where the Storm is available are the easiest, by far. You'll never need to leave cover, and you can kill anything, human or otherwise, in a matter of seconds. The future is a scary place.

Strike Missions prove to be one of the greatest additions to the single-player experience. Fusing FPS action with basic overhead RTS elements, this mode offers a refreshing change of pace from the run-and-gun tactics that have become all too familiar. The RTS elements add depth without being cumbersome; I hope we see more of it in DLC and whatever the next Call of Duty game is.

Unfortunately, the ambitious story, set pieces, and gear in Black Ops 2 are hampered by the technology powering the game. The experience feels sloppy, thanks to dated graphics, primitive special effects, and AI that's on vacation. While it's easy to blame the aging console generation, Halo 4 serves as a reminder on how visually stunning current-gen games can be. Does Black Ops 2 look better than MW3 and the original Black Ops? Yes, but just barely. It seems like the real elbow grease went into the pre-rendered cutscenes, which look dramatically better than gameplay.

The AI in Black Ops 2 is non-existent, a fault that's only amplified by the new weaponry. The sight on my SWAT-556 highlights enemy targets in red squares, making it that much easier to mow them down. Of course, mowing them down is already a breeze when flanking is out of the question, and they remain stationary behind the same piece of cover for the duration of the firefight. Every time you enter a room, the enemies either run straight for you, or they cling to one piece of cover. Whether you're fighting through the streets of LA or a generic, bland marketplace square in Yemen, enemies do not change how they react to your tactics. Sadly, and uneventfully, many encounters ultimately become mere shooting galleries; Black Ops 2 is as predictable as its predecessors.

There is fun to be had in Black Ops 2, but it can be hard to see it at times through the sea of shortcomings. The compelling narrative and Goyer's script is marred by lackluster tech that can't fully realize its vision. The fun gunplay made possible by the futuristic setting is disrupted by an overpowered weapon that upsets the game's balance. And while the standout Strike Missions prove that the franchise still has worthwhile innovation left in it, their brief appearance in the campaign will leave you wanting. Activision will need to have something truly special lined up for 2013, if they expect its already-dated technology to stutter its way for next year's game.


This Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 review was based on a retail Xbox 360 version of the game provided by the publisher. The game is also available on PC and PlayStation 3, and will be available on Wii U on November 18th. A separate multiplayer review will be available on Shacknews later this week, to ensure the reviewer gets sufficient time playing with the online community.

Shacknews - Tyler J. Smith

Welcome to the beginnings of a new week with Late Night Computing for Monday, November 12, 2012.

That didn't work out very well. It's never too early to break a New Year's resolution, which is precisely what I did over the weekend as I wound up going to the theatre to see Skyfall rather than sit outside and enjoy the fall sunshine with a novel. Shame on me. Oh well. The movie was great, though I think Casino Royale is still the king of the modern 007 era in my book.

News bits.

  • Wasteland 2 might be a little more realistic than you are expecting, thanks to a team of academic experts consulting on the game. [via ArsTechnica]

  • Experience the mind-numbing distortions of spacial relativity first hand in A Slower Speed of Light, a free educational game by MIT. [via MIT Gamelab]

  • Mozilla introduces Popcorn Maker, which makes video "hackable, linkable, remixable, and connected to the world around it." [via Mozilla]

  • See what might have been and read the original script for Ridley Scott's Alien prequel, Prometheus, by Jon Spaiths. [via io9]

  • Forgetful? Never lose your wallet ever with with the new Wallet TrackR service. [via TheNextWeb]

Chatty posts of the moment.

Make sure you log-in and check your filters if you can't see the following:

  • "MONDAY DISCUSSION -- Older, lesser known adventure games. Who's got one to share? This weeks topic is not for the LucasArts titles, Myst, or Kings/Police Quest. No, we've talked about those far too much here in the Chatty. Instead, lets talk about some lesser known adventure PC games that you played years ago. I'll get the ball rolling with a couple that I can remember being really really fond of when I was a kid." [by eonix]

  • "Best licensed soundtrack in a videogame. Is it... GTA: Vice City? It might be..." [by Wikus Van De Merwe]

Nightly file.

  • Drox Operative demo 1.0. "Drox Operative is a starship action RPG with warring alien races, fierce space battles, a dynamic, evolving galaxy, and co-op multiplayer. In the Drox Operative demo, you can get a taste of the dynamic and ever changing galaxy. There is no time limit, but it does limit everything to around level 6. The demos are about 120 MB." Download the demo for Windows or Mac.

Media.

Hitman: Absolution Agent 47 ICA File trailer:

Get the inside scoop on Agent 47 with a short ICA File trailer for Hitman: Absolution.

DmC: Devil May Cry releases the first portion of the Absolute Power developer diary series, become the mastermind of your own island with a new trailer for Tropico 4 Gold, and Azure Twilight dawns for Planetside 2.

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