Shacknews - Steve Watts

The dual stick shooter Big Sky Infinity is coming to PlayStation 3 and Vita today. The game will cost you $9.99, and getting it on either platform unlocks the other to boot. They each have their own multiplayer modes, but are otherwise similar.

Naturally, as a dual-stick shooter, the enemies and obstacles are randomly generated to force quick reactions. The PlayStation Blog lists the single-player modes as Classic, in which you upgrade your ship, the much more difficult Nightmare, the survival mode Pacifism, and the endurance-styled Infinity. The game also offers "Events," random elements that occur every so often like summoning a Black Hole, Worm Hole, or the Hell Cascade.

On PS3, you can play with up to three friends cooperatively for multiplayer. On Vita, the multiplayer is an asynchronous high score challenge. Check out the trailer below.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

The ill-tempered fowl are getting their own film adaptation, as today Rovio announced an Angry Birds movie is due in 2016. Despicable Me producer John Cohen will be producing the film, and David Maisel (Iron Man) will serve as executive producer. Rovio itself is producing and financing the movie, presumably with its piles and piles of Angry Birds money.

The company says this will allow it to retain full creative control over the property, in a cue taken from Maisel from his time at Marvel Studios. Cohen, meanwhile, brings a wealth of experience in animated feature films, including working closely with studios while producing Ice Age, Robots, and Horton Hears a Who. The Alvin and the Chipmunks movie was also purportedly his idea, so now you know who to credit/blame.

"John's an exceptionally talented producer, and we're delighted to have him join the flock," said Rovio CEO Mikael Hed, in the announcement. "With John's hands-on producer background and David's expertise in establishing and running his own successful studio, these two are the dream team for making a movie outside the studio system. Both professionals have the ideal skills and vision to achieve incredible things."

Of course, 2016 is quite a whiles away. The real question for Rovio is: can the franchise sustain its red-hot popularity by then?

Shacknews - Jeff Mattas

Far Cry 3's single-player campaign is one of the best shooter experiences of the year. But can multiplayer reach the same watermark set by the campaign?

The various multiplayer modes Far Cry 3 offers are relatively enjoyable in their own rights, however they forsake much of what made the single-player campaign so compelling. The freedom afforded by the campaign's myriad of systems like hunting, exploration, and combat-based progression, are sacrificed when jumping online.

One of Far Cry 3's multiplayer modes is a standalone co-op campaign that takes place six months before the main adventure. Set on a completely separate island in the Rook archipelago, this story follows a ragtag co-op group comprised of a shady ex-cop, a Scottish thug, an ex-military type, and a Russian hitman. The setup is functional at best, offering a bare-bones story that pales in comparison to the main campaign.

At its best, the co-op campaign rivals other great co-op experiences like Left 4 Dead, though as a whole, the experience is a bit more uneven. My biggest criticism of Far Cry 3's co-op is that it could've been bettered by embracing the freedom provided by the single-player game. Co-op is much more linear and contained, meaning that you lose a good deal of what made the single player experience so exciting.

Many of the battles in co-op send huge waves of enemies at the players, creating plenty of opportunities and incentive to use the various booster shots and "battle cries," which are basically buffs that boost things like health, accuracy, and speed. A minor complaint about the combat in co-op is that it doesn't appear to scale. Encounters, therefore, are balanced for the maximum four players. This means that some sections can become tougher than probably intended if you're down a player or two.

I couldn't help but wish that co-op had simply been some multiplayer rendition of the single-player story, folding in many of the systems that make the primary campaign so great and giving players their run of the islands. All told, however, co-op provides a fun romp in which you'll fell hundreds of dudes and compete in some fun mini-games. It simply doesn't offer much more than that.

I think it's safe to say that Far Cry 3's competitive multiplayer modes--while fun--aren't going to pull dedicated fans away from Halo 4 or Black Ops 2 and the like. At least the game offers a now-standard progression system for skills and weapons, for those that choose to get invested.

Aside from the obligatory Team Deathmatch and Domination modes, the game also introduces Transmission and Firestorm modes. These new modes are similar to Domination, but Transmission's control points (radio transmitters) will sometimes change locations. Firestorm--my favorite of the competitive modes--requires each team to simultaneously set fire to two fuel dumps held by the other team, while defending their own. Once the Firestorm begins, much of the map catches ablaze, and both teams have to battle over a radio control point to win. The fire effectively changes the viable routes you can take, adding some nice flavor to the war of attrition.

On a slightly odd note, players also unlock "encrypted data" via playing that can be used to unlock new bonuses and perks. The strange part is that these encrypted items must be decrypted using a sub-menu, and each item has a time limit associated with it. You may have to wait thirty minutes or more of real-time before the bonuses are unlocked, at which point you'll likely queue up another decryption. It's an annoying little hoop that players need to jump through in order to reap all the benefits they've earned, and the game would be better without it.

Far Cry 3 also includes an incredibly robust level editor, which is already being used by some to amusing effect, with even the odd goat-filled scenario. Though creating my own levels in games isn't typically my cup of tea, even I had fun horsing around with all of the easy-to-use tools that Far Cry 3 provides. Those interested in making their own scenarios will find that nearly everything they need is easily accessible.

The editor does have some shortcomings, like not being able to place AI in multiplayer maps except for testing purposes, but I think it's fair to say that the tools are useful enough that some enterprising level designers will come up with some pretty great content to extend what's already a very robust package. There's also a community-driven system in place to help the best user-made maps bubble to the top, but you can always dive in to test and rate someone's unproven brainchild, if that floats your boat.

Far Cry 3 would have been an excellent game without its included multiplayer modes, but what's on hand is more than competent. The co-op campaign is a nice diversion, even though it's unable to successfully harness much of what makes the single-player experience so good. Competitive multiplayer may not dethrone other online shooters, but at the very least, it's fun. All in all, multiplayer adds value to an already-excellent package.


This Far Cry 3 multiplayer review is based on the final PC version of the game, provided by the publisher. The game is also available on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

Something I found surprising in my time with the Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was the greater emphasis on stealth. Sure, the game offers plenty of Platinum's unique brand of action, but it still retains a good deal of MGS-style sneaking around. After the game proved me wrong, I asked if the addition of stealth mechanics was the intention from the beginning or whether it was tossed in later to address fan concerns.

"In the beginning, we wrapped around the core concept of just having Raiden moving forward," Platinum's Atsushi Inaba answered, speaking through a translator. "It was based on sole action. But looking back, it would have been very dull and very centered around just cutting."

"We think that players would just give up on it," Inaba added, admitting that the cutting gimmick couldn't sustain an entire game. "So we needed to have more options and variety and that's when we decided to include a lot more stealth and different routes where players can really flex on their play style."

The idea of Raiden constantly moving forward also leads into Revengeance's parry system. When enemies move in, Raiden can parry their blows and go on the offensive. This acts as a replacement to a more traditional blocking scheme, leading me to ask what led to the omission of blocking.

"This connects to having Raiden moving forward," Inaba replied. "We never want him blocking or moving sideways in order to defend himself. We always want him on the offensive. So when he moves and parries something, it connects to his next combo. As a character and as the concept, we wanted to keep in line with that."

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

Steam unveiled another group of Greenlight titles and John Locks (Shacknews user "johnlocks") couldn't be happier to see it. One of the titles revealed was Dawn of Fantasy, a game on which Locks serves as a programmer. As Valve hammers out the final details with developer Reverie World Studios for DoF's upcoming Steam release, Locks shared some details about the game with Shacknews.

Dawn of Fantasy is described as a step forward for the MMORTS genre--a full, free-to-play 3D experience with real-time siege combat, in which players can manage their economies, construct towns, direct their citizens, and complete dozens of quests in a growing online realm. Of course, Locks points out that this is the marketing department's description of the game, so how would he personally describe the game?

"I prefer to describe the game as an RTS with persistent cities," Locks answered. "Your city is like your RPG character--you develop it and increase its abilities and resources. It interacts against other targets in the world, of the player and non-player sorts, gaining or losing depending on how you play. So yeah, you could say it's an MMORTS, but I don't like to let people get carried away with that idea."

Locks takes a special pride in DoF, as he's made a significant contribution to the game's development. "My title is lead programmer, but that's a bit misleading, as I programmed 90 percent of the game with very little leading going on," he explained. "We only ever had one other programmer make significant contributions. We didn't know what we were doing business-wise for a long time. We just worked on it in our free time in hopes of trying to make a successful company one day. I would say real development was actually for a period of three years before we finally released it. During that period was when we really started acting as a real business as well."

Dawn of Fantasy has been around for over a year, but its new-found exposure on Steam will lead to an influx of new players. Locks describes the combat for anyone new to the game. "The game plays similar to any other RTS at is most basic level, but we've taken a strong focus on siege combat. You ram the enemy gates, scale the walls, and send thousands of men to storm the massive citadels. A lot of people heard about Stronghold, and this was, in part, our inspiration -- burning attackers with boiling oil, impaling on hidden spike traps, and all that other fun stuff. It can be an epic and bloody experience, representing brutality of siege combat, even in the fantasy themed settings, and we are rather happy with how it all turned out."

Dawn of Fantasy will feature three selectable races--Elves, Orcs, and Humans. Locks talks about incorporating the best ideas from different RTS games, taking cues from StarCraft in constructing the game's races. "Our goal was to present players with three unique gameplay styles," he added. "On top of the norm of unique buildings, units, hundreds of technologies and completely different art style, in Dawn of Fantasy each race also comes complete with its own lore, language, world region and terrain, and unique 50 quest campaign. In addition, we took our time in designing three distinct gameplay approach to base building and economy."

Locks was ecstatic to see Dawn of Fantasy make the Steam Greenlight list--and not just because he's an avid consumer of Steam games. However, he points out that the road to Steam was not an easy one. "Before Steam announced Greenlight, we made several attempts to get on the service, but never received any response whatsoever. That's pretty maddening when Steam is such a huge player in PC gaming and lots of people won't even buy a game that isn't on Steam. I suspect they just didn't have the manpower to deal with all the submissions they got. Unless they recognized who you were or what you were submitting, you got filtered out. They've now solved that with crowdsourcing but it's terrible to have your business left out in the cold without knowing why."

Those looking to jump into Dawn of Fantasy may have some catching up to do, as the game has been out for more than a year, and received bug fixes, tweaks, and feature patches. With the End of the World mini-expansion recently seeing the light of day, Reverie World Studios is preparing to release Siegeworks, the next expansion that will add new units and more than a dozen new NPC towns. Locks says Reverie is aiming to add three new expansions to DoF in the next year.

Even through his intense work schedule, Locks still makes time for Shacknews, having been a part of the community since 2008. "My post history goes back to 2008, but I feel like it was earlier than that," he said. "I don't post a lot, but I've had a few gems, comments on obscure subjects, attempts at dispassionate arguments in heated political threads, or insights into the biology of video game characters. It's always entertaining."

Shacknews - Steve Watts

The mech shooter Hawken has spent a long while in closed beta, but all of that is set to change tomorrow. The open beta is just around the corner, and Adhesive Games has released a new trailer to celebrate the impending bundle of mechanized joy.

The cinematic scene takes a cutaway view of Hawken's enormous walking tanks, showing some of the grinding gears and pistons at play. You can still sign up for a free beta account at the official site, and claim your call sign before the veil on the game lifts tomorrow. Check out the trailer below.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Journey has been a critical success for thatgamecompany, not least of which because of its stirring score from composer Austin Wintory. It recently won a VGA and was nominated for a Grammy. As a follow-up, Wintory is apparently composing for a storied franchise, albeit not one so praised for its artistry: Leisure Suit Larry.

Polygon reports that Wintory revealed he would be working on the Leisure Suit Larry remake that was funded by a Kickstarter in May. He said the developer, Replay Games, were fans of Journey. "It's actually shocking that they would think to call me because they couldn't be more opposite of each other," he said.

Wintory said he's written "sexy music" for film, and the team at Replay wanted to make sure he's comfortable with writing music that is "seedy, back alley kind of stuff." And while the choice may seem odd given his credits, he seems excited for the project. "That's my era as a gamer growing up," Wintory said. "This was like a fantasy to work on a game like that."

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Microsoft is rolling out a veritable boatload of entertainment apps this week, across all regions. The company is launching more than 40 apps between now and spring of 2013, and some unspecified number of them are coming this week.

According to the Major Nelson blog, CNET, Karaoke, Maxim, and Skydrive will start rolling out today and throughout this week in the United States. In the long term, most of the 40 apps are set for other countries. Planned apps for the US include All3M, Ameba TV, Flixster, GameTrailers, IndieFlix, MTV, PBS, PopcornFlix, Slacker Radio, and the CW Network. CrunchyRoll, Deezer, and Machinima were listed for a "majority" of Xbox Live regions as well.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Microsoft is rolling out a veritable boatload of entertainment apps in the coming weeks and months, across all regions. The company is launching more than 40 apps between now and spring of 2013, and some of them are coming this week.

According to the Major Nelson blog, CNET, Karaoke, Maxim, and Skydrive will start rolling out today and throughout this week in the United States. In the long term, most of the 40 apps are set for other countries. Planned apps for the US include All3M, Ameba TV, Flixster, GameTrailers, IndieFlix, MTV, PBS, PopcornFlix, Slacker Radio, and the CW Network. CrunchyRoll, Deezer, and Machinima were listed for a "majority" of Xbox Live regions as well.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Blizzard has spoken many times over the years about a console edition of Diablo 3 and publicly hired for such a project, but never confirmed it as an actual game we'll get to play one day. It does indeed have the action-RPG running on console now, it's confirmed, but even now Blizzard can't say whether or not it'll see the light of day.

"We're still kind of exploring it," Blizzard chief creative officer Rob Pardo told Polygon. "We've got builds up and running on it. We're hoping to get it far enough along where we can make it an official project, but we're not quite ready to release stuff about it, but it's looking pretty cool."

What is properly official for Diablo 3 is an expansion. The game had shifted over 10 million copies as of November, so it's no real surprise.

"The whole team is essentially working on the next big Diablo thing," lead designer Jay Wilson said to Polygon. "A lot of that stuff will show up next year at some point."

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