PC Gamer
Nazi Zombie Army

Zombies seem like an odd choice for Sniper Elite V2 expandalone Nazi Zombie Army. There are lots of them, ceaselessly shuffling towards the smell of a brain currently preoccupied with wind-adjustment calculations. A far cry from the cold, clinical, sadistic professionalism of a top marksman. It seems Rebellion agree, because this first game footage is extremely light on, you know, actual sniping.

Instead, Karl Fairburne - long distance hero and massive goddamn jerk - breaks out shotguns, machine guns and explosions to tackle the approaching hordes. When he does shoulder his sniper rifle, we see the return of the slow-mo kill-cam as a zomb gets popped in the kidney. Fairburne, you idiot! That is not how you take down the undead!

Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army is released later today, and also brings 4-player co-op to its new campaign.
PC Gamer - PC Gamer

After a break, we're back. Chris, Tom Senior and Marsh discuss Antichamber, DmC, The Witcher, Destiny, the inner workings of Valve and a game called Half-Life 2 that is pretty good aparrently.

Also featuring an ass palace, places where one may or may not take a horse, the playground circular saw craze of the 1990s, a wonderous squirrel experience, and possibly the most inept attempt to begin a podcast since the last time we tried to begin a podcast.

We also talk about Rome II, Aliens: Colonial Marines, and the games of David Johnston.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, or download the MP3 directly. Follow PC Gamer UK on Twitter to be informed when we're putting the call out for questions. Alternatively, follow us as individuals:

Tom Senior - @pcgludo
Marsh - @marshdavies
Chris - @cthursten

Show notes

Our review of Antichamber.
Smudged Cat games.
Half-Life 2 is a good computer game! Who knew. No link here: just registering my surprise. Again.
Our review of the petition-tastic DmC: Devil May Cry.
Some pictures of Destiny, Bungie's game about a magic space ball or something.
A blurry screenshot of whatever Respawn Entertainment are doing.
Via Eurogamer: the PS4 will not block used games.
MAXIMUM SQUIRRELS "Nine out of ten." - Martin 'Marsh' Davies
Our Aliens: Colonial Marines review, Kotaku's report on its troubled development, and a xenomorph with a tiny little invisible piano.
Someone call a doctor. Chris has a case of not-really-thinking-this-through.
PC Gamer
Rome 2 Teutoburg Massacre crop

The doors of Creative Assembly’s Total War development fortress creaked open a little wider today with the release of a new trailer for Rome II’s Battle of the Teutoburg Forest scenario. I saw this mission being played live a few months ago while visiting CA for the lead feature in PC Gamer issue 250. It was the first time I’d seen the game being played properly rather than running as a pre-scripted demo (or while dressed up in black spandex and dancing around like a moron.)

There was a lot to take in, and you’ll be able to read my full impressions in the preview feature which will be going up next week. Now that we’re allowed to talk about it, however, I thought I’d rattle off a few of the key changes to the Total War formula that were shown off - or discussed - while I was there.

A simpler, stylised interface

Rome II’s UI continues the trend of ornate, era-appropriate artwork that began in Shogun 2. Each faction has their own style - the Mediterranean factions, for example, are themed around Greco-Roman pottery. Unit cards are a little larger, by default, but can be minimised - and they’ll shrink when your army grows, like the icons on an iOS dock. It didn't look like any elements had been removed - mousing over units still brings up a detailed status indication, for example - but there’s been an evident effort to get you looking at the battle more and the interface less, which I like.

More varied individual soldiers

The version of the game I saw was reportedly pre-alpha, and I was told that there’s still work to be done inserting greater variety into the game in terms of animation - there were a few awkwardly synchronised moments in the demo, as is Total War tradition. Nonetheless, the guys from CA spent a lot of time excitedly pointing out little details that add granularity and visual interest to Rome II’s battles. There’s now height variation between soldiers, with the Germanic forces notably taller than their Roman rivals. Men coming under fire from a unit of archers raise their shields dynamically as individuals. Slight differences in equipment establish the idea that these are individuals, not clones.

This extends to voice work, too: the orders you can hear being yelled if you zoom in close enough are situation-appropriate. A few I heard were definitely scripted for the Teutoburg Forest scenario - Roman leader Varus, for example, yelling for someone to go and find German ‘ally’ Arminius and his auxiliaries - but others weren't, and I was told that this is another way that CA are trying to communicate battle information in more interesting ways.

Tactical view

The new Total War’s highest zoom setting pulls you right back out to a top-down view of the battlefield with units represented as translucent coloured rectangles. I was told that the art for this is currently a placeholder, and that CA are experimenting with a few different looks - including depicting troops as pieces of Roman-style coloured glass. The view was used sparingly during the demo, usually as a way to quickly confirm the position of multiple units before crashing back down to give orders at the unit level. I can see the two options working together well, due to a major change to Total War’s battle mechanics:

Dynamic line-of-sight

In a first for the series, you are now only able to see what your men can see - no more abstraction of certain battlefield elements, no more always-visible generals represented by a star. This has the effect of making battles much more reactive - in the dense Teutoburg Forest, with its winding forest paths and multiple elevated ridge-lines, units could appear from the treeline or from around corners demanding an immediate tactical shift. According to the designers I spoke to, making this change has allowed them to fiddle with the pace and balance of battle in ways that will hopefully do away with some of the series’ long-standing problems. Heavy cavalry units, for example, will now be limited by the fact that wearing a lot of armour means that they’re not very maneuverable and they can’t see very much. They’ll need to be accompanied by light auxiliaries or scouts to be effective, and this in turn keeps lighter and faster units tactically relevant when a faction has the resources to afford more powerful troops. A modern analogy would be the relationship between a piece of heavy artillery and the advance spotters that mean it can actually hit something.

It also means that it’s potentially possible for an army to disguise its numbers or composition right up until the point where it lands on top of an enemy. I’m really excited about the potential this has - as ancient history nerds will know, there are innumerable instances where misinformation and deception earned victories for smaller forces that seem impossible on paper.

Baggage trains!

Creative Assembly were still experimenting with the inclusion of optional objectives for regular battles when I spoke to them, but one example that was mentioned was the presence of an army’s baggage train as a static encampment behind the lines of each engagement. Capturing or destroying supplies would be a way for a clever, maneuverable army to get the better of a larger one. Again - the way this works as a part of a regular campaign is still being worked on. But it’s great that they’re working to provide ways to win besides ‘bringing more dudes.’

Persistent terrain and ambushes

Once a terrain map is generated for the campaign it’ll be persistent for any subsequent battles that take place in the same area - in previous Total War games, a series of variously hilly, flat and coastal maps were rotated in and out for each new battle. What this means is that players will become familiar with the best places to attack, defend, and ambush enemy armies, turning the home-field advantage from a rule-based mechanic to a dynamic one based on your tactical understanding of your territory.

This works hand-in-hand with the ambush feature, which lets you put armies into hiding ready to jump out at anyone - enemy or ally - that you’d like them to force into battle. In ambush scenarios, the defending army won’t get a chance to deploy: they’ll be marching in a line when the battle starts and will have to move into defensive formation as soon as possible. The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest is a standalone mission, but hopefully situations like it will be repeatable in the main campaign.

Assuming direct control

Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai allowed you to fire certain pieces of siege equipment - such as the gatling gun - directly, using a crosshair. This feature will return in Rome II for siege equipment. I haven’t seen it in play yet, so that’s about all I know - but expect to manually fire some trebuchets.

Dynasty warriors

We still haven’t seen the new campaign map, but a few details crept out. When selecting a faction you’ll also choose which political power you belong to - in the case of the Romans, these are the Junii, Julii and Cornelii. You are still playing as Rome, effectively, but the presence of other interest groups within your faction gives you something to consider at home as well as abroad. The designers I spoke to described this as a substantially expanded version of Shogun 2’s loyalty mechanic.

Sudden but inevitable betrayal

Creative Assembly are experimenting with ways to keep the game interesting when your power as a faction has reached critical mass. The clean-up phase has always been a weakness of the series, the point in the game where you can’t be stopped, and the road to victory looks a lot like clicking ‘auto resolve’ over and over again. Part of this will be an expanded reputation system where your deeds throughout the entire campaign are remembered: brutality towards one enemy will be factored in by the others you might face, meaning that you’ll face increasingly violent opposition even from enemies who you otherwise outnumber, or alliances of necessity formed in the face of your rolling war machine. Likewise, internal politics can lead to your faction facing outright civil war when power vacuums form. It all sounds very appropriate to the period. The Romans had a bit of a problem with uppity generals crossing important rivers, don’t you know.
PC Gamer
Rome 2 Fireballs

Have you heard this one before? A Roman general and his German ally go for a walk in the woods. Three legions of Roman soldiers end up dead. It's not a very good joke - not if you're Augustus, anyway. They were his legions. He would really, really like them back.

The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest is the basis for the latest trailer for Rome II, setting the stage for the historical scenario that I saw played when I last visited Creative Assembly. My full report can be found in PC Gamer 250 and will be going up on the site next week. Check out my run-down of the game's new features for a quick overview of the things that are changing in Total War's return to Rome.

Edit: Er, it looks like we embedded a previous Rome II video rather than the new trailer. Oops! Should be fixed now.
PC Gamer
Crysis 3

MaLDo, creator of the exceptionally pretty Crysis 2 graphics update and spotter of Crysis 3's ropey optimisation issues, has released a new tool for Crytek's latest PC punisher. OnTheFly lets you easily tweak Crysis 3's CVAR values in-game with a single button press. New shortcuts let you hide the HUD, tweak Depth of Field, and load a selection of custom presets. It should be perfect for keeping your frame rate high while your rig's assaulted by the sheer graphical powerhouse that is the first level's moving ropes.

The utility lets you create your own graphics presets, but MaLDo says the ones he provides are plenty pretty, enabling Global Illumination and high distance view even on low. You can also instantly modify the weapon FOV, which Crysis 3 apparently resets after every respawn.

MaLDo is keen to point out that the modified executable is not a crack, so won't bypass the game's DRM. He does, however, warn that the utility is only meant for singleplayer use, and that taking it into multiplayer may result in a ban.

You can download OnTheFly from here. See the full selection of shortcuts it enables below.

O - Hide HUD (Maybe you want to take some beautiful screenshots)
P - Show HUD (Maybe you want to locate enemies after taking screenshots :P)
I - Modify weapon FOV (Crysis 3 resets weapon FOV after every respawn)
6 - Reload low quality preset
7 - Reload recommended quality preset
8 - Reload ultra quality preset
9 - Activate normal Depth of field
0 - Activate ultra Depth of field
T - Activate slowmotion
Z - Deactivate slowmotion.
PC Gamer
The Sentinel

"You call *this* archaeology?" Sean Connery might quip if he witnessed the gun-toting chaos of the Deadfall Adventures trailer. At which point hero James Lee Quartermain would kick a flaming barrel into him and fill him full of lead from dual-wielded pistols while growling in a voice so manly it falls below audible human frequencies.

It may have a score almost identical to Uncharted's, desert sojourns and haunted Mayan temples, but the Indiana Jones DNA has been assuredly overwritten by the first person shooter - which is less surprising when you recall developer The Farm 51's last game was Painkiller: Hell & Damnation. It looks like their latest effort will be released on 30 July this very year. Check out the trailer, screenshots and concept art after the jump.

PC Gamer

The hero of Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag (already truncated to AssFlag in office lingo) makes a bid to become the loudest assassin yet in the box art Ubisoft put out today. He is wearing FOUR guns. He's wearing his "hidden" blade on the outside of his sleeve. He has woven a flag with the Assassin order logo on it, and then, because it wasn't piratey enough, plopped a skull in there for good measure. Because that's what you do, isn't it, when you're a pirate? You whack a skull on it.

Assassin's Creed 4 is about pirates, and boats, and islands, and killing bad men. All will be revealed on Monday when details banks burst and information flows through the webways, as hot and saucy as the regurgitated rum of a green sailor's first hurl. Those of us in the office that played Assassin's Creed 3 really enjoyed the sea bits, which bodes well for this latest outing. We'll have preview here for you on Monday, and we've squared away four pages in the next issue of PC Gamer, too. Here be ye box art ye blaggards.

PC Gamer

Trion Worlds have announced that Defiance, their unusual MMO shooter/TV-show collaboration with SyFy, will be the lead sponsor of the 2013 SCI-FI-LONDON Film Festival, taking place at the BFI Southbank between April 30th and May 6th. Both endeavours will be present on the show floor, giving you the chance to experience hot media synergy in action.

"We’re delighted to be involved with the SCI-FI-LONDON Film Festival," says John Burns, Senior Vice President of Trion Europe. "It is the perfect opportunity to showcase all the excitement Defiance has to offer. Defiance is the first of its kind – a unique and never-before-attempted entertainment experience that seamlessly melds together an online video game and TV series."

Defiance takes place in the San Francisco Bay Area, on a future Earth ravaged by terraforming technology run amok. Players take on the role of an Ark Hunter, searching the land for mysterious alien tech. And also shooting up giant bug monsters. Trion previously released a live-action trailer, teasing the game's setting.

Defiance is released April 2nd.
PC Gamer
Just Cause 3 screenshots thumbnail

Two weeks ago, Just Cause creator Christofer Sundberg posted a blurry, sepia-toned screenshot of a man knocking another man off a motorbike. Rumours had been kicking around that their studio, Avalanche, might be making a Mad Max game, so we theorised this might be from that.

But last night he posted another shot of the same character, this time looking a lot like Rico Rodriguez, and doing Rico Rodriguez's favourite thing: jumping out of an aircraft. This is very, very probably Just Cause 3. So a) Woo! and b) Ooh. Let's analyse!

Compared to the Rico of Just Cause 2, this guy has 4 interesting differences.

1. The glove. It's still big, which suggests it's for more than just gripping things, but the grappling cable that used to stick out of it is gone. Which leads us to:

2. The spool. A circular thing near the belt with a thick cable leading out of it to his shoulder. Interesting! To me this suggests a new grappling hook, one that's stronger and maybe designed for Rico to spend more time dangling from. You could hang from aircraft by your hand-grapple in Just Cause 2, but I always wanted to be able to extend it to do big Tarzan-swings between planes.

3. This thing. Probably a gun holster.

4. This curved thing. Completely mysterious to me here, but the other shot shows him swinging a short, curved weapon or tool - something he's presumably just hit the bike's former driver with. This could be the holster to that, though I don't have a good theory for what it is.

The context is also interesting. What we can see of the aircraft he's jumping from looks like the undercarriage of a blimp, and the blurry white thing on the ground next to the character's shoulder could easily be a blimp on the ground. If they're planning to strap a stripclub to the bottom of it, this'll be a prequel.

In both shots, every vehicle we can see looks a bit old-fashioned. But it's hard to know if the sepia tone is an artistic hint to the setting or just a shitty Instagram filter.

Anyone spot any other hints?
PC Gamer
dragon nest

It's taken a while, but action-based anime MMORPG Dragon Nest has finally arrived in Europe, entering a closed beta yesterday. It's not that closed though, as you can slurp up beta keys every day until the MMO officially opens for business on 6 March.

Though the anime aesthetic is about 500% of your daily recommended twee allowance, the actual action promises to be pretty thrilling, dispensing entirely with queued attacks and auto-targeting in favour of fighting-game combos and twitch-shooter rapid-fire bow combat. It's all skill-based, so even the lowest level player can take on hardened veterans.

As part of the run up to launch, there will be all kinds of competitions and rewards for beta participants - daily gifts, pets and in-game cash - and if the Dragon Nest beta clocks more than 8000 concurrent players, they'll let everyone keep their characters when the game goes live.

Have a look at the cinematic trailer for the Euro launch below, or snag yourself a beta key here.