Shacknews - Steve Watts

Just as expected, Steam's autumn sale kicked off today. It will run through Monday, November 26, and as always each day brings a fresh set of daily discounts and flash deals for the duration of the sale.

Today on the Steam Store you can snag on-the-cheap sales for XCOM: Enemy Unknown ($33.49), Magic 2013 ($4.99), Darksiders 2 ($16.99), Age of Empires 3 Complete ($9.99), Terraria ($3.39), and The Walking Dead Season One ($12.49, and highly recommended). Several revolving flash deals and indie games are on sale as well.

If any sales catch your fancy, be sure to grab them sooner rather than later. The deals rotate daily, and the flash deals rotate even more frequently, so it's best to jump on a price while it's still available.

Shacknews - Jeff Mattas

Jungles can be dangerous places. Especially jungles on remote, tropical islands that are inhabited by amoral, psychopathic, human-traffickers. In the case of Far Cry 3, developer Ubisoft Montreal has set its latest open-world FPS in the fictional Rook Islands in the south pacific. The game tells the story of Jason Brody, and the perilous and tragic events that befall him and his adventure-seeking friends while they're on vacation.

The game's narrative devices and execution are strong, bolstered by some engaging first-person cutscenes and voice acting. Aside from an effective revenge story that the game hinges much of its emotion on, Jason's character progression from an average 25-year-old thrill-seeker to a stealthy guerrilla fighter is handled quite well. It's worth noting that the story components of the game's final third aren't quite as compelling as what's delivered earlier on, but the mission design is solid throughout.

In fairness, by the final third of the game, I was already so invested in the world and my role in it that these weaker story beats didn't sour my enjoyment. They're not "bad" per se, they just seemed a little weak when compared to the story's earlier sections.

Far Cry 3 proudly continues the tradition of sandbox-shooter gameplay, allowing players to go where they want and do what they want, thanks to a large number of optional in-game activities that support the lengthy single-player campaign. I never felt limited by the number of choices available to me, and the Rook Islands are rich with opportunities to venture off the beaten path. Some of the ancillary activities can be considered distractions, but to simply write them all off as gameplay throw-aways wouldn't be accurate. Sure, there are racing missions and optional story missions that allow you to earn some extra, all-important cash, but one of Far Cry 3's strongest attributes is the way that it integrates much of its optional content to make the larger campaign more meaningful.

Some of my favorite optional activities were scaling radio towers and clearing enemy encampments. Climbing to the top of one of islands' numerous radio towers and removing a GPS scrambling device allows you to see the surrounding area and roads on your map, making navigation much easier. Actually scaling some of these rickety radio towers involves some light puzzle-platforming, and reaching the top rewards the player with a sweeping view of part of the island, and highlights new locations to explore. The process scratches the same itch as synchronizing viewpoints in the Assassin's Creed games.

Enemy encampments are also fun to take down, and some are much easier than others. Once cleared, the encampment becomes a fast-travel location, allowing you to reach certain areas of the map more quickly. A captured camp also has the benefit of eliminating enemy activity in the surrounding area, which is handy if you're getting tired of being ambushed by random enemy patrols. Capturing camps fed into a great sense of progression for me, as I watched my efforts pay off in a tangible way.

There are instances where the game's difficulty spiked considerably. No mission was insurmountable, but there were a few sections with timed objectives, and a couple of particularly tough firefights. In fact, some of the more difficult campaign missions occur earlier in the game, and some the game's final few campaign missions opt for spectacle over challenge. Personally, none of this negatively impacted my experience in significant ways, and the missions, on the whole, provide some excellent variety.

If fast-travel isn't an option, there are plenty of vehicles scattered around the world, including ATVs, hang-gliders, and various watercraft, as well as the usual cars and trucks. Given the sheer size of the map, the plentiful transportation options are essential.

As Jason accrues experience, you can assign skill points to unlock new abilities that strengthen him, or improve his moveset. All of these choices are reflected in the tribal tattoo on Jason's arm: a nice visual touch.

In most open-world games, the sheer amount of ways to earn money usually renders currency moot at some point. While it's certainly possible to amass a fortune in Far Cry 3 by doing things like exploring, racing, and special hunting missions, you'll feel like you've earned it. Ammunition isn't exactly scarce, but you'll either need to buy it, loot it from enemies, or gather it from weapon caches in the world. The constant need to scavenge is really effective at driving home the game's survivalist mentality.

Far Cry 3 is the best open-world single-player FPS experience I've played in recent memory. The world is beautiful, teeming with things to do and places to explore. Many of its underlying gameplay systems do a great job at bolstering the feeling of surviving in the wild. The story spins a compelling yarn of revenge and self-discovery, and even though the game's two possible endings are both decidedly macabre, the end result is an experience that is immensely satisfying and brimming with content. For fans of shooters and open-world exploration, Far Cry 3 is a vacation from hell that's well worth booking.

This Far Cry 3 single-player review is based on a near-final PC review copy provided by the publisher, and additional impressions via near-final Xbox 360 review code. Far Cry 3 comes out for PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 on December 4. Far Cry 3 also features a number of multiplayer modes, including a separate 4-player co-op campaign, but we've opted to review those elements after the game's official release.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Aliens: Colonial Marines is all about hardened space jocks taking on xenomorphs. But if the movie Aliens taught us one thing, it's that all the badass in the world is no match for an angry killing machine with a tiny mouth inside its larger, conveniently human-head sized mouth.

All that makes the new "Survivor Mode" of Colonial Marines a bit ironic. It's ostensibly about holding ground and withstanding attacks from xenomorphs, but the tension of that situation comes from being absurdly outmatched. The results are predictably gruesome. At one point an alien rips open its jaw and explodes. That happens. How do you even deal with that?

You can check out the trailer below to start formulating your hopeless strategies in preparation for its February 12 launch.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Just in time to confirm your Thanksgiving weekend, Garnett Lee, Jeff Cannata, and Andrew Yoon are joined by Sony Santa Monica's Ariel Angelotti and Seth Killian. Our guests talk up their newly released game, PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale, and offer some revealing insights on how the game was made. Fighting guru Seth explains his love for smash-type games, and explains exactly why fighting games should be excited for PlayStation's brawling mash-up. Then, Andrew talks about his lengthy hands-on with Wii U, and explains how he's warming up to Nintendo's unique GamePad. We throw in some football and some Last Story in there as well, so grab some stuffing and listen to this holiday Weekend Confirmed.

Weekend Confirmed Ep. 140: 11/21/2012

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Here's a handy pop-up player so you can listen from right here on the page. Let us know how it works for you.

If you're viewing this in the GameFly application, you can play Weekend Confirmed Episode 140 directly.

Weekend Confirmed comes in four segments to make it easy to listen to in segments or all at once. Here's the timing for this week's episode:

    Show Breakdown:

    Round 1 - 00:00:38 - 00:24:42

    Whatcha' Been Playin Part 1 - 00:26:04 - 00:56:17

    Whatcha Been Playin Part 2 00:57:01 - 01:26:52

    Listener Feedback/Front Page News/Finishing Moves - 01:27:36 - 02:02:11

    Tailgate - 02:02:58 - 02:09:43

Follow the Weekend Confirmed crew on Twitter, too!

Weekend Confirmed @WeekendConfirmd

Garnett Lee @GarnettLee

Jeff Mattas @jeffcannata

Andrew Yoon @scxzor

Ariel Angelotti @arielotti

Seth Killian @sethkillian

Remember to join the Official Facebook Weekend Confirmed Page and add us to your Facebook routine. We'll be keeping you up with the latest on the show there as well.

Original music in the show by Del Rio. Get his latest Album, Club Tipsy on iTunes. Check out more, including the Super Mega Worm mix and other mash-ups on his ReverbNation page or Facebook page, and follow him on twitter @delriomusic.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Nintendo was apparently hedging its bets a bit when it claimed video services would come to the Wii U "in the coming weeks." Netflix came at launch, and Hulu Plus is available starting today -- less than a week after the console's launch. But better to under-promise and over-deliver, right?

The Hulu Blog announced the launch of its app, and walked through some of the second-screen features. You'll be able to check out additional info on your TV shows using the second screen, or switch to watching your show from the second screen. Yes, that means you can take 30 Rock with you into the bathroom like you've always wanted, assuming your bathroom is within the Wii U's range.

The blog also promises easy, touch-based navigation and queuing, and a dedicated "Hulu Kids" section with more than 40 commercial-free, kid-friendly shows. This is similar to a Netflix initiative that started rolling out last year.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

A new title update is rolling out for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, which fixes a few pesky bugs just in time for your family's post-turkey naps. The full patch notes won't be available until tomorrow, but design director David Vonderhaar has mentioned a few of the fixes.

Vonderhaar's Twitter (via Eurogamer) has revealed fixes to a Theater Mode UI error (226117), a Dragonfire glitch, and an escort drone glitch. The former would simply fail to deploy, while the latter had the much more terrible (and hilarious) effect of sticking under the map and attacking its owner. Vonderhaar also said the studio is working with Sony to iron out the persistent issues in the PlayStation 3 version, such as matchmaking crashes.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Sony's previously announced Resistance Collection has set a firm release date. The compilation will launch on December 5 for $39.99, well after the Black Friday rush but in plenty of time for the holidays regardless.

The set will come on three discs, which will include Resistance: Fall of Man, Resistance 2, and Resistance 3. It will also contain the Aftermath Multiplayer map pack, skin bundle, and wraith skin weapon for R2, and the Brutality and Survivor packs for R3. The PlayStation Blog gives word that the games will be straight re-releases of the originals, which means no Trophy support for Fall of Man.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Battlefield 3 is one of EA's biggest franchises, and the one it used to take on the Call of Duty series most directly. But DICE is a large studio, and the publisher has claimed it's taking careful steps not to tie the developer down to one franchise.

"The DICE guys are roughly 300 people in the Stockholm studio," EA Games VP Patrick Soderlund told OXM UK. "Not all of them are working on Battlefield things, and that's intentional, because we don't want to become a Battlefield factory"

He suggested that employees can get bored with repeated franchises, so the company moves people around. "The minute we start saying 'you're going to make a Battlefield game for the rest of your life', they're going to go some place else," he said. "So for them to make great Battlefield games there need to be other things for them to do as well."

Sonderland didn't mention what those other projects might be, but a former EA boss claims it's a much-anticipated sequel. "It is general knowledge in the Stockholm dev scene that Mirror's Edge 2 is in production at DICE," said ex-EA Easy studio general manager Ben Cousins. This is second-hand information, though, so take it with at least a few grains of salt.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

A trio of, er, well, maybe not 'classic,' but certainly vintage, Sega fighting games are coming to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 next week. Sega has dug up its AM2 studio's face-punchers Fighting Vipers, Sonic the Fighters, and Virtua Fighter 2 and plans to drop them digitally at $5 a pop.

1995's Fighting Vipers was, you may recall, the game that revolutionised the genre by letting you kick a lady's clothes off to see her digital underwear. Sonic the Fighters came in 1996 as Sega started to really ramp up the awful sprawling expanded Sonic universe, but on the plus side did let you kick Tails in the face. Lastly, 1994's Virtua Fighter 2 was, well, the sequel to Virtua Fighter.

Sega says that they're "complete versions of the arcade originals," jazzed up with online multiplayer and achievements. They'll hit the North American PlayStation Network on November 27 and Xbox Live Arcade on November 28, costing $5 each, then the European PSN on December 5.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

If you're prone to the occasional rage quit, it may be sensible to get in a few spare mice or gamepads. VVVVVV creator Terry Cavanagh's delightfully difficult spin 'em up Super Hexagon is whirring onto PC and Mac next week via Steam, sure to test your patience and perhaps provoke a peripheral-tossing or two.

Super Hexagon was originally released for iOS in September. Pleasantly, the Steam edition will cost the same as its handheld counterpart, $2.99.

"I'm sorry this has taken so long. I appreciate your patience with me!" Cavanagh said. "I wanted to launch much sooner than this, but ultimately I just wasn't happy with the performance of the flash version. So, I knuckled down and rewrote everything in C++ - this new version of the game runs at a higher resolution than the iOS version, and runs fast and silky smooth on every machine I've been able to get my hands on â€" a very important thing for a game like this."

Cavanagh's currently sorting out someone to handle the Android port. Look, video!