Sid Meier's Civilization® V
Civilization V
It takes plenty of patience to make it to the end of a multiplayer game of Civilization 5, patience often stretched to breaking point by de-syncing games and ponderous AI turns. A new patch has arrived for Civilization 5 brings "significant improvements to general multiplayer stability" and does something fancy to the AI move caching, "improving turn-times significantly."

Out-of-sync errors should be less frequent and the UI has been updated letting players see details of a game before jumping into lobbies. On the downside, Firaxis have plugged a few loopholes. In a move sure to be welcomed by the confused citizens, we'll no longer be able to trade cities back and forth to heal them and "generate endless City Strikes." Aw. Here are the full patch notes, from Steam.

Multiplayer

Significant improvements to general multiplayer stability.
Significant improvements to Hot-Join stability.
Multiplayer now using the same AI move caching as single player, improving turn-times significantly.
Lobby improvements: We now display game details in the lobby list (players in each game, map size, map type, DLC required, etc.).
Host can now kick players from the staging room when loading a save (if a player cannot return to a game, the game can now be continued by the rest of the players).
Found and corrected additional causes of Out-of-Sync.
Exploit: Corrected an exploit that allowed players on the same team to trade cities back and forth to auto-heal it.
Exploit: Corrected an exploit that allowed players on the same team to trade cities back and forth to generate endless City Strikes.
Exploit: Corrected an exploit that allowed a player to “lag” the UI to gain multiple free techs.

 
UI

Change “Load Game” save sorting to be “Last Modified” by default.

 
Bugs

When scrapping a unit, make sure any “cargo” units are scrapped as well.
When a unit is destroyed that is carrying another unit, make sure to kill both (missiles sometimes lingered).
Corrected a bug that was causing eliminated Civ’s to not generate notifications correctly.
Changed notification language for when a Research or Trade deal is cancelled due to the AI running out of funds to pay for it (per-turn deal), or are eliminated. It was currently displaying a “because of war” notification which is incorrect.
Corrected an issue that could cause unhappiness from city count and number of specialists to become incorrect over the course of a long game.
Changed Frigate obsolete tech to Combustion.
Fixed Korean science building exploit.
Fixed a problem with City Strike that gave the user the impression that they could not end their turn, when in reality, city strike was still active.
Crash: Fixed a crash that could occur in hot-seat when exiting to the main menu.
Crash: Fixed a crash that could occur when a unit was eliminated by standing too close to a Citadel.

 
BioShock™
Bioshock Infinite - Elizabeth
Without giving too much away, a key twist in the original BioShock story is to do with your character being completely mute throughout the game. It was an interesting twist on Gordon Freeman-like character design, and a comment on the game’s key themes of determinism versus free will.

In BioShock Infinite, the protagonist - Booker DeWitt - will be able to speak. In an interview with IGN, its creator Ken Levine explained the decision. “How do you go back and say okay, well you're that kind of character again after you already had that discussion with the gamer?” asked Levine. “Our response to it was, let's really place you firmly in the world this time. Let's give you a story, let's give you a character to develop a personal story...You're very active, your story is very active, Elizabeth's story is very active.”

Although the protagonist may have found his vocal chords, Levine still values the use of silence in the game. Core to the game is damsel-in-distress Elizabeth’s relationship with Songbird, a strange mechanical bird that’s served as her friend and warden, and is now pursuing Elizabeth and DeWitt through the airborne city of Columbia. But, as Levine says, Songbird will never utter a word.

“The nice thing about silence is it forces you to make very clear decisions about that character,” said Levine. “It forces you to make that character have very clear motivations because you can't caught up in a ton of subtlety...It doesn't necessarily require words.”

Levine goes on to point out that visuals are more important than sounds in-game, because you generally tend to only hear a line of dialogue once, whereas images stay on screen for a lot longer. And the BioShock games have always been great at this visual storytelling - watch the original’s intro without sound and you still get a fairly good idea of what’s going on.

It’s an interesting change to the franchise. Adding vocals to Isaac Clarke in Dead Space 2 was a vast improvement, and his character suddenly felt a lot more fleshed-out - so to speak. But the critical question is how the story’s going to work in its inevitable twists without having a protagonist who gasps “OH MY GOD I REALLY WASN’T EXPECTING THAT DID YOU JUST SEE WHAT HAPPENED” all the time.
BioShock™
Bioshock Infinite
Bioshock’s fathomless setting of Rapture is the stuff Hollywood studio execs dream of: an established IP, a chance to splash out on visual effects, and a Byzantine plot. But the BioShock movie - once attached to Pirates of the Caribbean helmer Gore Verbinski - hasn’t surfaced yet.

Talking to Industry Gamers, Bioshock’s creator Ken Levine stated that the movie is “definitely something that’s still in the conversation”, so it’s not quite dead in the water. “We’d like to have a movie made,” said Levine. “But it would have to be the right one, and we’ve had the opportunity to get it made and unless all the right pieces are in place – it’s hard enough to get a movie made when all the right pieces are in place.”

The potential movie has been put on the back burner while Levine concentrates on the latest BioShock adventure, BioShock Infinite. “I think mostly about the game,” said Levine. “And when it’s done, and I have the story worked out completely - every single detail of it, I’ll probably be more comfortable thinking about that. But right now I’m really just focused on BioShock Infinite as a game.”

Although we’d love to see BioShock on the big screen, we do have doubts. In terms of content, BioShock was an adult game, with plenty of visceral gore and some challenging thematic elements. For Hollywood to green-light what would undoubtedly be a vastly-budgeted adaptation, the gore and horror would have to be toned down for a PG-13 audience. Surely BioShock’s essence is in its relentlessly horrific vision of a utopia gone wrong?

The other problem is that Gore Verbinski couldn’t direct you to a sofa in Ikea.
Borderlands Game of the Year
borderlands 2
We were overwhelmed by Borderlands - once we got past the initial levels and finally clicked into the bizarre, nine-toed genius that merged FPS and RPG with such gleeful disregard. It’s a hard act to follow, but developers Gearbox are aiming to go above and beyond the original with Borderlands 2. Writer Anthony Burch and concept designer Scott Kester chatted with Gamasutra about the upcoming sequel, specifically changes to the setting and characters.

Borderlands 2 has a new antagonist in the handsome form of Handsome Jack, and in the five game years since Borderlands he’s fundamentally changed the game world. He’s taken over the Hyperion weapons company, and claimed responsibility for finding the original game’s vault. In true James Bond-baddy style, he’s built an orbital base near Pandora’s moon - in the shape of a giant “H”, no less. “You can never forget that Handsome Jack is screwing over the moon,” said Burch.

Each of Borderlands 2’s new protagonists is going to have a specific reason for hating Handsome Jack, which will be explained as the game goes on. The advantage of bringing in a new gang of protagonists means the old ones’ back stories can be explained in more detail, too. “You get to learn about who the Vault Hunters are as characters now because you're not controlling them,” said Burch. “So you can see like, ‘Oh, how did Roland bounce off?’, or ‘What's Mordecai's story?’ or ‘What's Brick's story?’”

One of our principal complaints about the first was that no matter how cel-shaded and comic-book-paletted the deserts were, they remained very deserty. The changes Handsome Jack has made to Borderlands 2’s world add much-needed variety. “It doesn't feel like I'm walking into the same desert, on the same bus, and dealing with all that kind of stuff,” said Burch. “You have these beautiful new arctic tundra areas, and these grasslands and stuff, and it feels completely new; all you mostly saw in the first game was just dust and dirt and all that stuff.”

But Borderlands 2 isn’t suddenly going to go all Crysis on our arses. “It's still harsh -- everything around every corner wants to kill you, but it's just to stay true to the nature of what the game is,” said Kester.
BioShock™
Bioshock Infinite - Elizabeth
The Bioshock series has shown off a few human issues in its time; the ethics behind child experiments, human genetic manipulation and artificially manufacturing the father-daughter bond. CVG are reporting that Infinite will offer something slightly more personal, with the history of central character Elizabeth drawing influence from designer Ken Levine's personal experiences. Read on for the full story.

In Bioshock Infinite, players will encounter Elizabeth, a girl who has been held captive for most of her life by winged beast, The Songbird. Her attitudes towards the creature are heavily conflicted. On one hand, she hates it for oppressing her for so long, but on the other hand she feels for it as it has brought her up since childhood. Talking to CVG, Levine said: "I’ve had the experience of knowing a girl once, dating her once actually, who had been with somebody who had abused her before. All the clichés you hear about are true. She would say that this guy had pushed her down the stairs when she was pregnant, that he had made her kneel in glass… all these unspeakably horrible things. Then she would make excuses for him, all the time. I knew the entire time that we were dating that she would go back to him. I could just see it. It was this tragic thing happening in real-time. And she did go back to him.”

“That’s not Elizabeth – Elizabeth is trying to get free – but she definitely has a connection,” Levine explained. “This is the thing that raised her: this was the only contact she had. He brought her food, and her clothes and her books. He played with her when she was a kid.”

“So she’s conflicted and I think conflicted characters are way more interesting than characters who act with a certainty.”
Sid Meier's Civilization® V
Civ V
CVG bring news that a game of the year edition for Civilization V is just around the corner. It'll include all of the DLC packs that Firaxis have put out since launch, adding Polynesia, Inca, Vikings, the Mongols, Babylon and the Spanish, along with a batch of new maps and scenarios tailored to each civ. The bundle will cost $49.99 and will come out on September 27 in the US.

There aren't any details of a European release yet, but if you missed Civ V the first time around, the GOTY's a good way to grab it with most of the additional units and leaders, though last month's Korea and Wonders of the Ancient World DLC seem to be absent from the list. Read on for a summary of the bonus DLC that's included, and check out our Civilization V review to find out why we heartily recommend it.


Sid Meier's Civilization V (standalone game);
Civilization and Scenario Pack: The Mongols;
Civilization Pack: Babylon;
Cradle of Civilization Map Packs: Mesopotamia, Americas, Asia and Mediterranean;
Double Civilization and Scenario Pack: Spain and Inca;
Civilization and Scenario Pack: Polynesia;
Civilization and Scenario Pack: Denmark - The Vikings;
Explorer's Map Pack;
Sid Meier's Civilization V digital soundtrack.

 
Borderlands Game of the Year
Borderlands 2 To Be Announced
Keen eyed players of Borderlands might have noticed that the Steam version recently updated itself, bringing Steam Cloud save synchronisation and something called BTest. According to the update, BTest is a stat tracking system that will record what guns and areas are most popular with players, in order to help Gearbox improve their games. The software also includes a leaderboard at Gearbox Labs, which will let you compare your stats to other players.

With Borderlands 2 announced for April next year, it seems likely the data collected will have some influence on the development of the sequel.
Borderlands Game of the Year
Borderlands 2 - dwarven fauxhican in action
2K have given us yet another reason to be super excited about Gamescom next week (as though we needed one). CVG have spotted a post on the 2K Games site announcing that they will be streaming the first Borderlands 2 footage live from Cologne on their uStream channel. The show kicks off next Friday at 8:00 PT / 17:00 CET / 16:00 BST. Questions from fans will be answered throughout the demo, you can submit your own by tweeting @2KGames or @GearboxSoftware, or by dropping a post on the Gearbox or 2K forums.

If you're sending in a question, don't ask "will I be able to play as a stumpy maniac who can dual wield any weapon in the game?" because we know the answer to that question is already "yes." Borderlands 2 will have four new playable characters, and brand new weapons. It's due out next year, some time after April 1.
Sid Meier's Civilization® V



Two new DLC packs are heading to Civilization 5 this Thursday report CVG. The first adds the Korean civ as a playable faction. They're science experts, capable of developing devastating Hwach'a artillery siege machines and resilient "Turtle Boats." The pack also contains a new scenario simulating the samurai invasion of Korea. You can play as the Koreans, Chinese or Japanese and try to defend/destroy the Korean countryside as you see fit.

The second pack adds three new wonders, The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, The Statue of Zeus, and The Temple of Artemis. These give lowly civilisations useful boosts to their cities' growth and military might. The packs will be priced at $4.99 each, or you can grab both as a bundle for $7.50. Catch the trailer for the Wonders pack below.

Borderlands Game of the Year
Borderlands 2 - dwarven fauxhican in action
The playable heroes of Borderlands 1 will return for Borderlands 2, but only as NPC characters. Game Informer reveals that we'll be taking charge of four completely new heroes when the sequel is released next year.

Gearbox have also decided to scrap all of the weapons from Borderlands 1. The randomly generated guns of the first game gave rise to thousands of mad scope/ammo/manufacturer combinations. New manufacturers will bring their own visual twists to each weapon, and players will now be able to add custom decals and enhancements to their favourite pieces.

Of the four new characters, only one has been revealed so far. He's a stumpy "Gunzerker" called Salvador. He can dual wield any weapon and improve his abilities using the familiar three-branch skill tree of the first game. He'll be able to choose from a wider selection of vehicles (ie: more than one), and use the new currency, Eridium, to buy new items or upgrade his armoury.

Gearbox also promise greatly improved enemy AI and more varied environments. Also, for better or worse, Claptrap's back!

Bordlerlands 2 is due sometime after April 1 n 2012, check out the official Borderlands 2 site for more.
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