Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

With E3 almost upon us, trailers created for that odious event are starting to creep in early, lest they be lost in the kerfuffle. The first gameplay trailer for Arkane's first-person emergent 'em up Dishonored arrived last night, and it's oh so lovely.

For an E3 trailer, there's a surprising amount of gameplay, though it's naturally cut up into teensy little snippets. Still, it certainly sets the scene on Dishonored's filthy word of decadence, plague and splendid mechanical technology. It's one of the games I'm most looking forward to this year, though I'm clearly failing in my plan to avoid learning too much about it beforehand.

Dishonored is coming to PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on October 9, published by Bethesda Softworks. While we'll undoubtedly see more of it at E3, for now, check out our recent preview.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

I see my target, standing in the middle of a crowded Chinese marketplace. The scene is littered with dozens, if not hundreds of people. How do I take care of him? I know there's a sniper rifle on the other side of the square, and if I look out through the window, I should be able to get a perfect shot of him. So, I walk through the crowd and make my way into a dark alley.

A cop spots me. I'm not supposed to be here, apparently. I raise my hands, feigning surrender. As the officer draws near, I snap his neck and go for a quiet kill. I didn't want to, but he left me no choice. Of course, there's not much I can do with a dead body--except take his clothes and hide his body in the nearest dumpster, of course.

It was all a bit too easy after that. Getting into the building was easy--although, thinking back, I wonder if I had checked for security cameras. Lying on a desk was a sniper rifle, and I had a clear shot on the target. I pull the trigger, and the crowds start screaming and scattering. I have to get out of here, I tell myself. So I rush out of the building and look for the nearest exit. Cops are starting to come in, but I'm in luck. I'm already wearing one of their uniforms. I manage to casually walk out of the level, completing my kill in under a few minutes.

But that was sloppy; I killed an innocent. There were so many other ways I could've taken out of my target. Hitman: Absolution is a toy box of murder--and there are lots of toys. In one playthrough, I saw someone plant a bomb on the target's car. He triggers the car alarm, causing the target to run to the car... and, you can figure out what happens from there. That's a messier kill, with a lot of collateral damage and civilian deaths.

There were other options I saw, highlighted by on-screen prompts. For example, there's an area with some scaffolding. If I could somehow lure the target under that and shoot a weak hook, I could make it tumble down on him. Another interesting option: I could poison him, by feeding him a laced piece of fugu. Best of all, this method shouldn't draw any attention; it would look like an accident.

The appeal of the Hitman series has always been in finding the perfect kill. And yes, while Square Enix is promoting Absolution with ninja assassin nuns, the game is less about the spectacle, and more about exploring the environment and figuring out the best way of taking out your target. A running tally shows your professionalism, and every innocent you kill mars your score.

I was especially impressed by Absolution's visuals. I'm amazed to see how much today's new engines are able to push old hardware. Glacier 2, IO Interactive's new engine for Absolution, produces some fantastic results. The crowd rendering tech built into the engine is definitely impressive, even if there are a few shortcomings (stiff animations, repeated characters). I don't think I've seen so many characters on screen before. Seeing them run away when I fired my sniper rifle was especially satisfying.

Absolution doesn't really reinvent the wheel as much as its six-year absence would suggest. But that's certainly not a bad thing. I was surprised at how natural it was to pick up and play Absolution. There will be multiple difficulties, each offering varying amounts of on-screen advice. The default setting I was set to gave me a comfortable amount of information on the screen, without being overwhelming. It's rare for such a complex game to be immediately accessible. I need to play more than one level to get a better appreciation for the game's nuances, but I'm definitely impressed by what I saw so far.

Watch the Shacknews E3 2012 page to follow all our coverage of this year's show. This preview is based on a hands-on demo shown at a pre-E3 event.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

THQ "core games" VP Danny Bilson may have stepped down, but he went out still confident in his company's direction and success with recent restructuring efforts. Only a week before his departure from the company was announced, he boasted about the troubled publisher's budget for core games, and talked about the THQ's strategy in digital initiatives.

Bilson's last interview with shows no indication that he knew that changes were coming as he talked about future plans. Either he was caught unaware, or he has a great poker face.

"Unfortunately we've had to trim a few things out of it that were really good and that was just a matter of business," he said. "I have a giant budget. That's the thing, people saw 'oooh' and I'm like wait a minute, I can't give you the number but it's really a large number. I mean it's not as large as it was before, but it's a large number and we have a lot of people making games and getting paid every week, we're investing a lot in talent and what we do, we're just not doing as much of it. But we're doing plenty. And you don't need that much anymore, you just need to do a few things really well."

He emphasized that the initial package has to open the door to downloadable content, but he thinks DLC can come in a variety of sizes. Saints Row: The Third is setting an example for the company. "Saints Row was originally the '30 day, 60 day and 90 day DLC,' that was sort of the old school plan. And we said 'wait a minute, what if we open up a store? Give us 9 months of content, some free, some small things, some big pieces, let's open up this shop. And it's done really well for us. And that speaks to the game, and the fans, and their dedication to that game." He says this makes for a "great opportunity," but he's skeptical that it will ever surpass the revenue generated from game sales.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is coming in "early 2013," a new trailer for the game reveals. However, you'll be able to get your hands on it much sooner.

The symbiotic relationship between Metal Gear and Zone of the Enders continues. Back on the PlayStation 2, enthusiastic Metal Gear fans bought Zone of the Enders because it included a demo of Metal Gear Solid 2. Now, Metal Gears fan have reason to buy Zone of the Enders HD. The updated HD collection will include a demo for Revengeance.

The demo will eventually be released on PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, but if you want to get early access to the demo, you'll have to shell out for the HD Collection, slated for holiday release.

Hidden in the Mega64 skit in Konami's presentation

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

There's a new Star Wars game coming, and as expected, it's dubbed 1313. On the latest episode of GameTrailers TV, Dominic Robilliard, creative director of the project, described it as a game where you play a bounty hunter in the most dangerous part of the galaxy far, far away--an area beneath the surface of Coruscant called 1313.

Unique to 1313 is the collaborative effort Lucasfilm is putting into the game, including tech from LucasArts, ILM, Lucasfilm Animation, and Skywalker Sound.

"The game puts players in control of a deadly bounty hunter as he uses an arsenal of exotic weaponry to hunt down his marks and uncover the truth surrounding a criminal conspiracy. Star Wars 1313 emphasizes epic set pieces and fast-paced combat with a hero who uses human skills and gadgets, rather than supernatural Force powers, to make his way through this dangerous world," the announcement reads.

While the latest episode of GT.TV does not include any gameplay, a formal reveal of the game is expected next week, during E3.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Update: Now includes additional details from Konami.

Mirror of Fate isn't the only Castlevania game coming from Konami. In fact, it's not the only Lords of Shadow game. Konami has officially announced Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 for PS3 and Xbox 360. Developed by MercurySteam, the debut trailer paints a game that looks more like The Lord of the Rings than any Castlevania game before it.

Konami called Lords of the Shadow 2 "the shocking conclusion" to the story. In the sequel, "Dracula returns once again, weakened and yearning for release from his immortal bonds. Facing a new and powerful threat, the vampire lord must reacquire his old powers, and only his castle holds the key."

"Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is the most successful Castlevania game to be released in the franchise's history," producer Dave Cox said in a press release. "We are looking to provide series fans yet another nail biter, complete with Dracula's resurrection and the Belmont clan's desire for his final destruction."

Shacknews - John Keefer

Like so many games that are "free-to-play," Valve's planning on selling quite a bit of content through Dota 2. In fact, the Dota 2 store is opening for business, so players can begin customizing their heroes ASAP.

Unlike in League of Legends, all heroes will be available free of charge. "We believe restricting player access to heroes could be destructive to game design, so it's something we plan to avoid," Valve explained. Instead, the Dota 2 store will feature official Valve-designed items, and fan created items via Steam Workshop integration.

Valve is offering early entry to the free-to-play game through an Early Access Bundle for $39.99. In addition to early access, the bundle includes the following tradeable items:

  • Mighty Boar
  • Stoic Mask of the High Plains
  • Wolf Cape of the High Plains
  • Aspect Wraps of the High Plains
  • Long-Fang the Grey Blade
  • Tayrnhelm of the Swordmaster
  • Girth of the Swordmaster
  • Fluted Guard of the Swordmaster
  • Grip of the Swordmaster

Although players may be buying access to a "beta" version of the game, Valve claims that "we don't really think of Dota 2 as a beta." In a FAQ, Valve explains that "we also aren't ready for everyone to show up and start playing just yet," but assures all the items you purchase and all the progress you make in the game will remain intact once it leaves beta.

According to the Dota 2 blog, the store is launching with close to 200 items created by Valve employees and the community. All of the items are purely cosmetic in nature since the team is discouraging a "pay-to-win" type of game. Any items purchased through the store will carry through when the game finally launches.

"The opening of the Dota Store is a big part of our final push to launch," Dota 2's IceFrog said in a press release. "With support for the Steam Workshop, the majority of the items made available on day one were created and being sold by members of the community. By making the game Free to Play, we hope to give gamers the ability to decide how - and how much - they want to invest in the game."

Shacknews - Tyler J. Smith

Shacknews receives a slew of new screenshots and trailers for upcoming games everyday. The most anticipated titles receive their own post, because we know you're eager to see that content. For the rest, we have the Daily Filter, a place to feature all of the media we add to our enormous database on a daily basis.

Today's Filter features a closed beta trailer for World of Warplanes, a combat unleashed for Lollipop Chainsaw, and much more!

World of Warplanes

Lollipop Chainsaw

We also have a wrap trailer for Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Future Soldier, a teaser trailer for SpellForce 2: Faith in Destiny, a behind the scenes trailer for Sniper Elite V2, a developer diary for Inversion, a first look at LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, and a monsters trailer for Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit. Be sure to check out additional trailers and screenshots on each game page!

Shacknews - John Keefer

Trion World's popular MMO, Rift is getting a face lift through a new expansion pack. Called Storm Legion, the expansion promises to add two new continents that will triple the size of the existing world of Telara. The story-driven expansion will focus on Crucia, Queen of Storms, and the armies she hopes to bring through a gateway to the planes.

As explained on the expansion's official web site, Storm Legion will add three new raids and seven new dungeons. The add-on is planned for release this fall.

Trion had hinted at the expansion when it sent out an odd assortment of goodies, including a carpenter's level with the number 10 on it (the level cap rises from 50 to 60), the soles of four shoes (four new souls, one for each calling), and a rusty key ring with a gold key labeled Port Tempest (although the new city is Tempest Bay, according to the official site).

We'll get a first-hand look at the new Telara at E3 next week.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

The indie game Guacamelee has become a PlayStation exclusive, with an injection of money through the Pub Fund. The Metroidvania blending luchador title is now slated for release on both PlayStation 3 and the Vita sometime in early 2013.

"Sony has been really great to work with in the past, and we are excited to continue working with them to have the opportunity to bring our new game to their platforms via the Pub Fund program," said studio co-founder Graham Smith. Drinkbox has previously made About a Blob for PlayStation 3 and Mutant Blobs Attack for Vita.

Guacamelee will be shown at E3 this year, as part of Sony's booth. Check out our preview for first-hand impressions.


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