Shacknews - Steve Watts

The PlayStation 3 is getting yet another bundle, this one targeted at younger audiences. A Target-exclusive bundle packages the system and a Move controller along with Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two.

The bundle goes for $299.99, and includes the game, a 250GB PlayStation 3, a standard controller, PlayStation Eye, Move and navigation controller, and 30 days of PlayStation Plus. A PlayStation tweet confirmed that it's a retailer exclusive for Target. The price isn't bad if you've been in the market for a PS3 with a Move anyway, even if the game itself has gotten mixed reviews.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

The "first wave" of DLC for Resident Evil 6 will be available on Xbox 360 on December 18th. As announced months ago, the DLC will be a timed exclusive on Xbox Live, and should arrive on PS3 in the future.

Three new multiplayer modes will be available for Capcom's zombie shooter: Predator, Survivors, and Onslaught. Each will be available for 320 Microsoft Points ($4), or bundled together for 720 Microsoft Points ($9).

Here's how Capcom describes each of the three modes:

Predator - Available for two to six players, in Predator one player takes on the role of the Ustanak, the fearsome B.O.W. that stalks Jake Muller throughout his campaign, and tries to eliminate the human players. The humans’ task: stop the deadly B.O.W. in its tracks, or at least survive until the end of the session.

Survivors - Survivors takes the classic solo and team-based versus mode and adds a twist. Get killed and respawn as an enemy character with the ability to attack the human characters. Take down one human character to resurrect in human form. Last man or team standing wins. Survivors can be played by two to six players.

Onslaught - Onslaught sees two players go head-to-head in an attempt to clear waves of oncoming enemies. Chaining combos provides the key to success in Onslaught as this will send enemies over to the opponent’s screen, the more that are sent over, the quicker the victory will be.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

The PlayStation Vita has gotten an incremental firmware update, which is said to fix some issues for PlayStation Plus members. The 2.01 update is available now, and focuses squarely on making sure Plus game saves sync as they're supposed to.

The patch note, if you could call it that, was contained within a single tweet from the PlayStation account. Firmware version 2.0 as a whole added a host of new features, including e-mail functionality for Gmail and Yahoo, wireless transfers between Vita and PC, more PSP game options, and an updated browser with HTML 5 and Java support. Check out some impressions on how it improves the overall experience.

Shacknews - Ryan Calavano

The first DLC for Assassin's Creed 3 will be made available today for Season Pass holders. "The Hidden Secrets" pack adds three missions, previously available as pre-order exclusives: The Lost Mayan Ruins, the Ghost of War, and a Dangerous Season. Combined, the three should offer an "additional hour of gameplay." Then, four add-ons for Sound Shapes will be available on the PlayStation Store later today, including one that will be completely free. Additional "albums" created by "entertainment industry luminaries" will continue to launch in 2013. Finally, Far Cry 3 is out today on PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. If you want the game but haven't decided on which platform to go for, Sony is making a case for its console with an exclusive co-op downloadable content pack, due early next year.

You can also watch this episode on YouTube. And, don't forget to subscribe to get the latest episodes as they go up.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Today, PS3 owners will be able to get their hands on a long-awaited port: the original Mass Effect. After years of being exclusive to Xbox 360 and PC, the port can be purchased as part of the Mass Effect Trilogy at retail, or as a standalone $15 download on the PlayStation Store.

We had a quick test of the retail version of the game, just to see how the Edge of Reality-developed port stands up.

The original Mass Effect is based on an older version of the Unreal Engine, and the consequences are immediate from the get-go. Remember when you had half-hour long multi-gig installations on PS3? Well, get ready to make a sandwich as the retail version of Mass Effect for PS3 starts off with a mandatory 3GB install.

It's clear that the PS3 version of the game is a port (and not a remake), as many of the technical shortcomings of the original Xbox release are recreated in the PS3 version. There's still quite a bit of texture pop-in, a glitch that's all-too-familiar on many Unreal Engine releases. The elevator rides are still painfully slow, although the mandatory hard disk installation may have hastened them slightly.

Saving games also takes quite a while, with the game freezing for a significant period of time every time an auto-save kicks in. But considering the lengthy load times and infrequent checkpoints, you may want to create a manual save pretty regularly. PS3 players that are expecting ME1 to play like 2 or 3 will be in for a world of shock: the original Mass Effect definitely feels antiquated after becoming accustomed to the updated gameplay engine.

While the mandatory hard drive installation will frustrate some players, the PS3 version of Mass Effect is quite a solid port. The framerate is steady, there's brand new trophy support, and the inclusion of Bring Down the Sky into the main game is a nice addition for PS3 fans.


Field Reports provide our first-hand experience with the latest games and expansion packs. This report is based on the PS3 version of the game.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Epic Games president Mike Capps has announced his retirement, continuing a streak of high-profile departures from the studio responsible for the Unreal engine and the Gears of War franchise. Production director Rod Fergusson left in August to join BioShock Infinite developer Irrational Games, while Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski left two months ago to begin his "next stage of his career."

Capps is ending a ten year run at Epic, transitioning into "an advisory role" while remaining on the Epic board of directors.

Speaking on the company's official website (via Polygon), he says that he currently plans on being "a stay at home dad for a while," and may get into teaching, creative writing, and spend more time with charities. His sentiments seem to echo those of the BioWare's co-founders, who both retired from the industry in September.

While some may view the exodus from Epic Games as a sign of things to come, Capps points out that he is "truly excited about our future games and Unreal Engine 4."

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Wii used to be the dominant Netflix-playing platform. But as that system sunsets, the PS3 has overtaken its competitors for the box most owners use to stream Netflix videos to their TVs. In fact, according to new stats revealed by Netflix, PS3 owners stream more often than PC at times throughout the year as well.

Netflix announced today that the PS3 is the "largest TV-connected platform" for Netflix viewing. The company notes that PlayStation 3 offers the service for free (unlike the Xbox 360, which requires a Gold account), and was the first to offer 1080p video resolution, both of which may have influenced users to make the switch. It's also the platform of choice for testing a new interface called "Max."

As of last year, Nielsen research showed Wii held most of the Netflix audience between consoles. At the time, the PlayStation 3 accounted for about 13% of the audience, and the Wii at 25%. The news that the PS3 overtakes the PC is even more impressive, since last year PCs accounted for roughly 42% of viewing. Nielsen may count its figures differently than the Netflix's own internal estimates, but this still would seem to indicate a large sea change in usage trends.

"The PlayStation and Netflix communities both share a strong passion for high quality entertainment," said SCEA CEO Jack Tretton, in the announcement. "Netflix provides a fantastic experience for watching TV shows and movies on PS3, and our joint development will continue to produce innovations for our customers that further demonstrate PS3 as the true home for entertainment in the living room."

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

DayZ has become one of the Shacknews community's favorite games, with a dedicated server for community members to set up shop and go on raids around nearby towns. After months of playing through the game, however, at least one Shacker has found the game a little too forgiving. Sure, there are brain-eating zombies running all over the place, but there are just too many ways to dispatch the ambling undead.

Erich Geiger (aka BeowolfSchaefer in Shacknews circles) is a part of a team that's working on DayZ 2017, a mod designed to take DayZ to its logical next step. Fast-forwarding to the year 2017, zombies continue to roam the earth and the human population is quickly running out of defenses. "The core idea is that the events of DayZ took place five years ago and the world has moved on, so to speak," explains Geiger. "Remaining resources have largely been scavenged, exhausted or lost and mere survival has become even more of a challenge."

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Geiger is a recent addition to the team, working primarily on balancing. The project is led by modder Luke "shinkicker" Hinds, who most recently adapted the Celle map for DayZ. "He uses a combination of Blender and Oxygen 2 to do his modeling," Geiger added. "In general, Arma is an extremely moddable platform, which is one of the main reasons the original DayZ was developed for it."

Aside from ammo availability, Geiger indicates that players will notice a visual difference between DayZ 2017 and its predecessor. "The new player models will have a more ragged appearance, as will the remaining vehicles," he said. "Stories like The Road and Book of Eli are particular influences for Luke and this shows in the models."

Killing zombies in DayZ was a tall task before, with the game's realistic take on combat. Geiger points out that the actual practice of engaging zombies remains unchanged in DayZ 2017, but players will need to exercise new strategies before doing so. "Higher end weapons have generally been more important in PVP scenarios in Day Z," he explains. "However, we hope that limitations on food and medical supplies will make recovery from zombie attacks more difficult and encourage players to be more cautious about when and how to engage them."

Of course, a world completely devoid of ammunition is hard to swallow. I asked Geiger about the chances of hidden caches or undiscovered military ammo dumps being placed in remote parts of the world. Geiger answered that there may be a surprise or two, but the team is dead serious about limiting weapons for absolutely everyone. "A bonus to our approach is that when an item is removed from a mod, hackers (which have been a problem in Day Z) no longer have access to it, either," he added. "So we gain an extra element of security that happens to fit the narrative."

Player behavior in the original DayZ has varied, depending on the server and on the person. A group of people will band together to try and forage for supplies for their camp. But there are also cutthroat ne'er-do-wells out solely for themselves, living to backstab others and steal their supplies. Will the sudden depletion of supplies lead to a greater sense of cohesiveness? "Our hope is to see more teamwork," Geiger said. "But DayZ has been called a social experiment. We'll just have to see what the results are."

Geiger has been a member of the Shacknews community since 2010. He joined in 2010 as a part of the Minecraft community and has stuck around ever since. He's also the admin of the site's DayZ server, which is kept running by Shacker donations.

Those looking to venture into the future of DayZ will be able to try out DayZ 2017 very soon. In fact, Geiger says the new mod is on track for open testing within the next week. The final version will be released shortly thereafter.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Before digging down with Minecraft and blasting off into space in 0x10c, Markus 'Notch' Persson co-founded sandbox building MMO Wurm Online. Now, over six years since its entered open beta, Wurm is finally approaching version 1.0. If you moaned about the pace of Minecraft's development, maybe that'll put things into perspective, you big silly.

It's an awfully complex affair, where you can cut down trees to saw into logs to make a handle for an axe to... you get the point--crafting, crafting, crafting galore, with thousands of items. The big selling point was that you can found and build villages, which you need to maintain and defend. Animals can be bred and rode, crops raised, things killed, and religious wars waged. Imagine the concept of Minecraft but an awful lot more intricate and MMO-y. Hit the official site for more.

Wurm Online will finally, properly, really, launch on December 12. It hit beta in 2003, then opened up to everyone in 2006. It's been a long time coming. Persson left in 2007, but fellow founder Rolf Jansson carried on leading development.

"As most of you have noticed during all these years we've kept a low profile when it comes to attracting customers. It has been a deliberate strategy due to our special development situation," developer Code Club said in the announcement. "It has worked well and we have attracted the customer base we've needed to keep the flame burning."

While Wurm does have a €5 optional monthly charge, you can play without it. However, you'll be stuck on a smaller landmass with lower skill caps and no option to start your own village.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

For years, Microsoft has been hearing cries to rerelease, revamp, or otherwise revitalize the classic arcade fighter Killer Instinct. But in an apparent attempt to renew the trademark, the company has been denied by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Polygon reports that the USPTO denied Microsoft's request to renew the trademark due to a "likelihood of confusion" with another mark, (no. 3370331). That mark was filed by FOX Television Studios. The USPTO claims the video game from 1996 may cause market confusion with a newer property, a short-lived television show called Killer Instinct from 2005.

Microsoft has six months (from November 29) to respond to the USPTO, or it will be considered to have abandoned the trademark application. We first heard that Microsoft had applied for the renewal in September, but whatever the publisher had planned, it has to find a way around this roadblock before it can proceed.

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