Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Did you know that as many as 20 people are still playing the PC edition of Halo 2? Surprising, isn't it? They won't be for much longer, mind, as 343 Industries yesterday announced it will shut down the servers on February 15. How sad that Halo 2's going away just as we finally have PCs capable of running it at a decent FPS. Ah, ha ha. That joke would've killed in 2007, you know.

"We've been monitoring the population for months, and it's been peaking consistently at approximately 20 players or less," 343 community manager Jessica Shea wrote in the latest Halo Bulletin blog post.

"Those that own this game can continue to enjoy Multiplayer over LAN after that date; however our network services will be turned off at that time," Shea said. "We love you, Halo 2 PC, and you will live forever in our hearts."

The Xbox edition of Halo 2 went dark when Microsoft shut down the original Xbox Live network in 2010, though a group of adoring fans kept it going for almost a month by keeping their connections alive. Their numbers were whittled away by lagouts and overheating consoles until the casket was finally lowered into the ground.

Halo 2 came to PC in 2007, three years after its Xbox debut, as a Windows Vista exclusive. It was widely slated for looking and feeling outdated, requiring Vista at a time when people were still very wary of it, and running like a total dog on even the snazziest PC.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Actor Jerry Lambert, who played Kevin Butler in a popular run of PlayStation advertisements, has settled the breach of contract suit brought against him by Sony for appearing in a Bridgestone tires ad that promoted the Wii. Per the terms of the settlement, you won't see Lambert promoting anything video game related for a few years.

MediaPost (via Gamasutra) reports that Lambert acknowledged that he created confusion among some customers. As a result, he's agreed not to appear in any ad or promotion that mentions "any other video game or computer entertainment system or video game company" for two years. Once those two years are up, Lambert will spend two more years giving Sony notice of any video game commercials so it can assess whether it violates Sony's right to the Kevin Butler character.

Lambert is still able to portray the "Kevin Butler" character, with Sony's permission. Sony hasn't been using the character since the lawsuit started, so it's unknown if the company would be receptive to starting the campaign again.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Awards season for video games doesn't just touch on our isolated corner of enthusiasts. Those who make their living penning scripts have gotten some recognition from the Writers Guild of America, and "Outstanding Achievement in Video Game Writing" is its own category.

The Guild announced the nominees yesterday. 007 Legends, Assassin's Creed 3, Assassin's Creed 3: Liberation, Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, Halo 4, and Uncharted: Golden Abyss have been honored with nods.

You might notice some glaring omissions, most notably The Walking Dead which has gotten heavy buzz based almost entirely on the strength of its writing. But keep in mind the awards are reserved for those who were either members or had applied to the WGA Writers Caucus as of the time the scripts were permitted. Anything you think should be on the list but isn't may have just been a product of missing some Writers Guild requirements, rather than the Guild deeming it unworthy for consideration.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Dead or Alive 5+ is coming to Vita in March. And like many Vita ports of PS3 games, it includes connectivity with the console version of the game.

Crucially, the Vita and PS3 versions can play against each other. Through "Cross Play," you'll be able to fight online against opponents on either platform. And Team Ninja promises that battles will run at 60fps on both systems.

The game will also support "Cross Goods," much like the Street Fighter games on Vita. That means whatever DLC you purchase for one version will be unlocked for the other. As noted on the PlayStation.Blog, "we will have delivered over 100 costumes as DLC by the end of this month." Yikes.

Finally, there will be "Cross Save," which should be pretty self-explanatory. But, DOA5 is missing one crucial feature which will probably prevent many from enjoying all these features: this is not a "Cross-Buy" game, meaning you'll have to buy both versions separately.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

The first batch of DLC for PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale is coming February 12th. The initial add-on will expand the roster by two, and will introduce a brand new stage.

As previously reported, the DLC adds two combatants: Gravity Rush's Kat and Starhawk's Emmett. Kat can bend gravity to allow her to dash, slide, and fly from one place to another. Emmett offers “Build & Battle” gameplay from Starhawk, calling down different structures to aid him in battle.

"Rest assured that these DLC characters will be getting the same treatment the rest of our cast was given, including updated official website pages with moves and bios, alternate costumes, Arcade Mode cutscenes, Trial Modes, and more," the PlayStation.Blog promises.

The add-on will be free for two weeks when it releases on PS3 and Vita. And of course, it is by no means the end of DLC for the PlayStation mash-up. "We're not stopping there though. We still have some more All-Stars on the way," the blog notes, teasing a March reveal.

Here, take a look at how these two characters play:

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Resident Evil 6 is the game Capcom keeps on trying to fix, in light of lower than expected sales. The last title update tweaked the game's camera--one of the biggest flaws of the original game. The next title update adds a new "QTE assist" feature for all difficulties, declawing one of the game's most annoying gameplay features.

The title update will drop on January 22nd, and will also make Agent Hunt mode accessible without completing the game first. You can also create custom games, like setting the stage, region, and toggling infinite ammo and friendly fire.

Stage selection has been improved, letting you now select individual stages within chapters, so you can relive your favorite moments from the game. Finally, "some areas have had their difficulty adjusted based on feedback," according to Capcom-Unity.

Shacknews - Nikole Zivalich

First up, Pikmin 3, Game & Wario, The Wonderful 101, and Wii Fit U have all been moved to the nebulous "first half of the year" and miss the launch window for the Wii U. Today's release announcements covered Nintendo's slate through March, so the movement of these titles to a more vague time frame pushes them out of that line-up. Pikmin had previously been called a spring release. Next, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is a radical departure from the previous two games in the Fabula Nova Crystallis series. In fact, by moving to a new "Amazing ATB" battle system, Lightning Returns may represent the boldest change for a mainline Final Fantasy game ever. Finally, Sony wants to give you reason to dip a toe into the PlayStation Mobile market, and has figured out that people love grabbing free games. Starting right now, it's offering a free PS Mobile game, and will continue to offer one new title every Wednesday for the next six weeks.

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

Shacknews - John Keefer

DayZ creator Dean Hall doesn't want to be a professional. He wants to be a person that is upfront about his feelings and opinions. And for that reason, he's making it clear that he is furious with the competing zombie game The War Z.

"I am angry about the WarZ. I'm very angry," he said in an AMA on Reddit (via CVG). "I'm quite hurt personally because anyone can see how similar the words are, and while the average gamer knows the difference individual people don't."

Hall said people have called him unethical because they have confused the problems faced by The War Z with his mod. "I really don't think anyone can understand just quite how exasperated that can make you feel when you've gambled everything on something, put your whole self and reputation on the line. So it hasn't made my life very pleasant."

The War Z developer Sergey Titov has publicly apologized for problems the game has had and for the 'arrogant' way he responded to the issues.

When told that as a good professional developer, he shouldn't talk bad about another developer, Hall made it clear that he wasn't concerned. "We fundamentally disagree on what a 'good developer' is. I think a good developer should be a person not a professional. Because games are personal. I care more about being a good person and if that conflicts with some abstract sense of professionalism then to hell with professionalism. I made DayZ for the game I want to play, not because I wanted a career in it."

Shacknews - John Keefer

It's been seven years of Hell for Diablo 3 Game Director Jay Wilson, and he has had enough. The designer has decided to step down from the position at Blizzard and move on to another project within the company.

In a blog post to fans, Wilson said the period of time working on the game has been "both challenging and rewarding," but he felt that he needed to do something else. "I've reached a point creatively where I'm looking forward to working on something new. The powers that be at Blizzard have been gracious enough to give me that opportunity. Over the course of the next several weeks, I will be moving off of the Diablo III project and transitioning elsewhere within Blizzard. This decision was not an easy one for me, and not one I made quickly, but ultimately it's what I feel is right."

He acknowledged creative differences with the community, probably some of the most vocal fans in the game industry, and said while the game wasn't perfect, "I'm proud of Diablo 3." He said he will miss the passion and dedication of the fans. "I feel I have made many mistakes in managing that relationship, but my intent was always to provide a great gaming experience, and be as open and receptive as possible, while still sticking true to the vision the Diablo team has for the game."

He said his departure should not have a negative effect on the game, and that a job posting for his position should be appearing on the Blizzard site. The company will be looking for "the best possible leadership" to continue to evolve the game and make it better, he said. The latest 1.0.7 patch is already on the public test realm and is bringing a ton of changes to the game.

Shacknews - John Keefer

Tired of your black PS3? Or maybe you've been waiting for yet another console bundle? A "limited edition" Crystal White version of the console will be coming to North America on January 27, bundled with a full year of PlayStation Plus.

For the $299.99 retail price, you'll get a 500 GB Super Slim PS3. You'll also get one year of PlayStation Plus, which includes access to the Instant Game Collection for PS3 and Vita, of course.

If you want to grab the bundle but already have PS Plus, an extra year will be added to your current subscription.

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