In addition to looking at the lighter and weirder side of the game industry, System Update provides the latest information on weekly console updates, DLC, game-specific updates, and other game-industry flotsam and jetsam.
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In January, Electronic Arts announced its latest Tiger Woods game would be the first to include the sacred Augusta National golf course, home to the Masters tournament. Now, gamers eager to tee up and go for a low score will be able to prior to the game's release.
EA has announced that a demo for Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters will debut on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network beginning March 8. The sampler thrusts players onto the tee box of the par-4 18th hole at Augusta National.
Gamers will play as Tiger Woods in the demo, and the voice of longtime Masters announcer Jim Nantz (and the colorful David Feherty) will provide commentary as Woods goes for his fifth Green Jacket.
The PlayStation 3 version of the demo can be played with the PlayStation Move controller. Further, players can immerse themselves deeper into the game by toggling on the game’s True View mode, which offers a first-person view. EA also noted that "sharing" the demo will increase gamers' XPs but did not elaborate further.
The Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game will feature 16 courses, with Sony's system also receiving a Collector's Edition of the game, which includes an extra five courses at a $10 premium over the standard edition. As in previous years, the Wii edition offers the most holes in one game, with Augusta National and 23 additional courses to play. PGA Tour 12 will also let players relive memorable shots from the Masters' storied history, including Woods' four Green Jacket wins at the tournament.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters is due out on March 29. For more on the title, check out GameSpot's most recent preview.
People Can Fly's first-person shooter Bulletstorm soared to retail on Tuesday behind a warm critical reception. Now, the studio has announced it will support the title with new multiplayer maps beginning this spring.
The Gun Sonata downloadable content for Bulletstorm will include three new maps for the game’s Anarchy multiplayer mode: the murky Sewers of Stygia, the ruins of Hotel Elysium, and the more expansive Villa. Additionally, the new DLC will add two new environments for the game's score-attack Echo mode: Crash Site and Guns of Stygia.
Further, gamers will earn additional ways to kill with skill with the Gun Sonata content. Two new Leash enhancements are bundled with the DLC: the Flamingo and the Pulp. Publisher Electronic Arts did not note what these new augments are capable of.
The Gun Sonata map pack will debut on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network beginning this spring priced at 800 Microsoft points, or $10. No PC release of the content was mentioned.
For more on the just-released shooter, check out GameSpot's review of Bulletstorm.
Electronic Arts is positioning DICE's Battlefield franchise at the forefront of its first-person shooter army, and as such, it will be heavily promoting the release of Battlefield 3 on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC this fall. Preorder perks, of course, will be party to that campaign, and the publisher today confirmed rumors that emerged earlier this month that signaled the arrival of the Battlefield 3 Limited Edition.
As was the case for EA's latest Medal of Honor installment, the Battlefield 3 Limited Edition carries a standard edition price tag of $59.99 on all three platforms. Those who preorder the Limited Edition will gain free access to the Back to Karkand map pack. EA did not indicate whether the Back to Karkand pack will be available to those who do not prepurchase Battlefield 3 and had not responded to requests for comment as of press time.
Highlighting the Back to Karkand map pack are four playfields from Battlefield 2 that have been updated with DICE's new Frostbite 2 engine. Unfortunately, EA did not indicate which classic Battlefield 2 maps would be included in the pack. Gamers will also find an assortment of Battlefield 2 weapons and vehicles, as well as "unique rewards" and achievements/trophies.
Along with announcing the preorder incentives, EA also unspooled Battlefield 3's first public gameplay trailer. Seen below, the trailer offers quick glimpses of what the Frostbite 2 engine has in store as soldiers are shown navigating the perils of war in an urban setting.
For more information, check out GameSpot's previous coverage of Battlefield 3.
Pokemon Black and White--the latest duo of Pokemon titles--arrived last year in Japan and became the fastest game ever to sell 5 million units in the territory. Now, Nintendo is offering stateside gamers two more reasons to catch-'em-all.
Premiering on March 6 will be two new $180 Pokemon-themed limited edition Nintendo DSi bundles. Black system bundles (at right) will include a copy of the Pokemon Black iteration of the game, and white system bundles will bundle a copy of the White version of the title.
Both system bundles will include Legendary Pokemon Reshiram and Zekrom etched onto the face of the DSi. In addition, each pack will include a Pokemon-themed DSi carrying case.
As for the game, Pokemon Black and White introduce a handful of changes to the established gotta-catch-'em-all formula. Developer Game Freak has expanded the game's online functionality through features, such as Global Link, where players can access special content by uploading their save files to a website. Black and White also introduce more than 150 new Pokemon that players can add to their Pokedexes, as well as change seasons.
The stand-alone Pokemon Black/White games will debut on March 6. For more on Nintendo’s latest monster-catching title, check out GameSpot's first look preview at Pokemon Black/White.
It's a busy week on Xbox Live, as two new demos, a trio of Games on Demand entries, and the second game of Microsoft's House Party are all out this week.
As for BioWare's demo, gamers will be able to play through Dragon Age II's prologue as one of three character classes. The demo will introduce the game's primary protagonist, Hawke, and see him journey to Kirkwall to rendezvous with romantic interest Isabela. Gamers who complete the demo will also unlock Hayder's Razor, a dwarven blade that grants health, mana, and combat bonuses for use in the full game.
Additionally, if at least 1 million gamers download the Dragon Age II demo by March 1, two in-game bonus items will be unlocked for the entire community. Dragon Age II is due out on March 8.
Gamers who prefer lightsabers to swords can download a demo for Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars today. Developer Traveller's Tales will introduce new battle modes with Lego Star Wars III, including close-encounter combat techniques and the ability to build customized bases and fortresses. Gamers can take the side of either a Jedi or a Separatist, each of which comes with its own special abilities.
Switching to the Xbox Live Arcade, Microsoft will add Bejeweled Blitz Live (800 MS points, or $10) on Wednesday, February 23. The game is part of the five-title House Party promotion, which kicked off last week with Hard Corps: Uprising and continues next week with Beyond Good & Evil HD.
Bejeweled Blitz Live offers both classic and twist gameplay modes where gamers can compete to top leaderboards. The game also features a 16-player party mode playable through Xbox Live.
Three new games are available from the Games on Demand hub now. They include 2008's Alone in the Dark ($20), Platinum Games' action title Bayonetta ($20), and 2007's Bladestorm: The Hundred Years' War ($35).
Last week, Nintendo celebrated Valentine's Day with Pucca's Kisses Game, and this week, the House of Mario rings in another holiday: President's Day with a range of new titles available for its download spaces.
Leading the pack this week on the Virtual Console is Faxanadu (500 Wii points, or $5). The adventure platformer title from Hudson Entertainment premiered in the late 1980s on the NES. Gamers play an unnamed adventurer in Faxanadu and are tasked with climbing the World Tree to discover the secrets of the world's corruption.
Switching to WiiWare, Nintendo added two new titles and two demos to the download space today. Jewel Keepers: Easter Island (500 Wii points, or $5) casts players as Professor "H," who travels to the famed Easter Island with his assistant and granddaughter to solve puzzles and quests.
With spring and warmer weather quickly closing in, gamers looking to stoke a virtual fireplace can download Cozy Fire (500 Wii points, or $5) from WiiWare today. The title lets players light a match and start the fire with the Wii Remote. Further, players have six fire modes to choose from: Fire Alone, Campfire, Rustic, Classic, Elegant, and Zen. Players can choose to manually keep the fire going or even toggle on a "Butler" mode, which automatically keeps the flame alive.
Gamers looking to try before they buy can now download WiiWare samplers for the fantasy-based Rage of the Gladiator and the child-oriented brain trainer Learning With the PooYoos: Episode 1.
Landing on the DSiWare download hub this week were three new titles, the first of which is G.G. Series Drift Circuit (200 DSi points, or $2). From Genterprise, the racing game has players zipping and drifting around the race track on three difficulty levels: easy, normal, and hard.
Also out now on DSiWare is Teyon's Arctic Escape (500 DSi points, or $5). The game has players controlling a band of kidnapped penguins to safety through 100 ice-cold levels. Players will need to avoid obstacles like broken ice, falling cages, and wolves to make it to safety.
The last game out on DSiWare this week is Remote Racers (500 DSi points, or $5). From QubicGames, the driving title has players sitting behind the wheel of one of eight vehicles and racing against AI opponents on 15 distinct courses. The title also boasts a range of power-ups, as well as 32 challenges and eight championships to participate in.
Electronic Arts will be priming the release of BioWare's Dragon Age II on March 8 with a demo, due two weeks to the day prior on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. Eager to get that sampler into gamers' hands, BioWare said today that two in-game bonus items will be unlocked for the entire Dragon Age II player base…if the demo accrues 1 million downloads before March 1 across all three versions of the game.
The two items up for unlocking are the Far Cliffs of Kirkwall and Lothering's Lament tomes. The first is a book of poems written by a Fereldan refugee fleeing the Blight, and it grants money when read. The second tome is also a book of poems from a Blight refugee, and it grants players bonus experience points when read.
As for the demo itself, gamers will be able to play through Dragon Age II's prologue as one of three character classes. The demo will introduce the game's primary protagonist, Hawke, and see him journey to Kirkwall to rendezvous with romantic interest Isabela. Gamers who complete the demo will also unlock Hayder's Razor, a dwarven blade that grants health, mana, and combat bonuses, for use in the full game.
For a download to count, BioWare said that gamers will have to log into their EA account while playing the demo. Gamers looking to keep tabs on how many Dragon Age II demos have been downloaded can do so through the game's official website.
For more on Dragon Age II, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit has proven to be a hit for Electronic Arts, as the Criterion Games-developed action racer has shipped more than 5 million units. Criterion has already released one downloadable content pack to keep gas in the game's tank, but the studio won't be stopping there. Today, Criterion announced that three more add-ons will be released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of Hot Pursuit, the first of which will take the line on February 22.
Titled Armed & Dangerous, the first add-on includes two new online game modes and three achievements/trophies. Most Wanted mode sees gamers attempting to protect a criminal racer by fending off the onslaught of cops out to make the bust. Arms Race is the second mode, and it plays out like a vehicular deathmatch.
On March 1, Criterion will release Lamborghini Unleashed, a pack that introduces the famed car manufacturer's Diablo, Countach, and Sesto Elemento to the game. The pack also includes 10 new events and four achievements/trophies.
This round of new offerings concludes on March 8 with the release of the Porsche Unleashed pack. The Porsche pack adds the car maker's 911 Turbo (1982 Edition), 959, and 911 Speedster to the game, along with 10 new events and four achievements/trophies.
Each pack will carry a $7 (560 Microsoft points) price tag. For more on Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.
Despite claims that the Assassin's Creed franchise would be taking a "breather," Ubisoft confirmed earlier this week that it will have a new Assassin's Creed out before the end of March 2012. However, that doesn't mean the publisher is yet through with the game's current iteration, confirming today that a new downloadable content update for Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood will be available in March.
Available for $10 (800 Microsoft points) through the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, The Da Vinci Disappearance includes both single-player and multiplayer content to extend the experience of Brotherhood. The solo mission sees players attempting to track down Leonardo Da Vinci, who was kidnapped by the Hermeticists after the fall of Borgias in Rome. As Ezio, players will track Da Vinci through clues found in art, uncovering two new locations and a pair of gameplay features.
According to Ubisoft, The Da Vinci Disappearance represents the most substantive multiplayer expansion yet for Brotherhood. It will include a single map, Alhambra, which is set in Spain's Albaicin of Granada and features multistory gameplay in both indoor and outdoor areas. Four new characters will also be included: Dama Rossa, the Knight, the Marquis, and the Pariah.
The multiplayer add-on also includes two new gameplay modes: Escort and Assassinate. In Escort, two teams of four players guard their own VIP while attempting to assassinate the opposing side's very important target. Assassinate mode sees six to eight players attempting to off each other a la classic deathmatch.
For more on Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.
Captain America: The First Avenger is scheduled for release on July 22, and it will see Fantastic Four actor Chris Evans stepping into the superheroic boots of a new masked champion. Making use of its Marvel Entertainment license, Sega expects to release a game tie-in for the film, and the publisher announced today that the live-action star will also lend his voice and likeness to the publisher's adaptation, Captain America: Super Soldier.
Super Soldier will be based on the Captain America film, which also stars Tommy Lee Jones (No Country for Old Men) and Samuel L. Jackson (Iron Man 2). Hearkening back to the comic franchise's roots, Nazis will be the target of Captain America's ire, as the shield-wielding hero squares off against his archnemesis, Red Skull, in an effort to stop the evil machinations of the scientist Arnim Zola.
Beginning during the height of WWII, the third-person action adventure will be set in a sprawling castle complex and will feature foes from the comic books, including the Iron Cross and members of the terrorist group HYDRA. Gameplay will have an emphasis on hand-to-hand combat involving the superhero's indestructible shield as well as platforming sequences.
Captain America: Super Soldier is currently scheduled to arrive this year on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, and DS. For more information, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.
Crysis 2 doesn't debut until March 22, and so far, only Xbox Live subscribers have been able to play the game's multiplayer demo. That will all change on March 1, when PC gamers will get a chance to nanosuit up to try out the graphically intense shooter.
This morning, publisher Electronic Arts announced the demo, which will allow players to engage in six-versus-six battles on two maps and two modes. The maps include Skyline, which takes place atop and inside several New York City skyscrapers, and Pier 17, an open area on the Manhattan waterfront. Modes include Team Instant Action, a form of team deathmatch, and Crash Site, a variant on traditional capture the flag.
All of Crysis 2's multiplayer content was developed by Crytek UK, the studio formerly known as Free Radical. Following the lackluster reception of its long-delayed shooter Haze, the once-independent studio found itself in dire financial straights, allowing Germany-based Crytek to swoop in for the acquisition in February 2009.
Unlike previous games from the formerly PC-focused Crytek, Crysis 2 will be released simultaneously for the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. For more information on the shooter, check out GameSpot's recent preview.
It's a busy week on the PlayStation Network, as gamers have a range of new offerings to consider, including Killzone 3 and Yakuza 4 samplers, Telltale Games' Marty McFly series, and Tactics Ogre for the PSP.
Leading the charge this week is a single-player demo for Killzone 3. The sampler features a single level, Icy Incursion, which sees players return to the conflict between the human Interplanetary Strategic Alliance and the Nazi-like Helghast. As the title implies, the level will feature a wintry landscape on the planet Helghan, which players must negotiate with the help of jetpacks. Melee combat will also play a major role in the level.
Another high-profile demo out now on the PSN is for Yakuza 4. The demo will let players try out all four of the characters and their respective fighting styles. PlayStation Plus subscribers can download the demo today, with all PlayStation Network users getting access to it on February 23.
Out now in the PlayStation 3 download department is the Back to the Future: The Game series ($20 for the entire, five-part season). Taking place six months after the events of the third firm, Telltale's point-and-click adventure series has players traveling through time, mending wrongs, and preventing unthinkable time-travel-related mistakes.
Those not interested in Back to the Future, but another Telltale-developed series, can pick up Sam and Max episodes 2-5 ($9 each). The titles are part of the five-part The Devil's Playhouse season and include The Tomb of Sammun-Mak, They Stole Max's Brain!, Beyond the Alley of the Dolls, and The City That Dares Not Sleep.
Also out now as a PS3 game download is Pure ($20). The quad bike racer sports 30 unique courses ranging from snowy Italian mountains to the rim of a volcano and allows gamers to participate against 15 other racers.
The last PS3 title out this week on the PSN is Acceleration of Suguri X-Edition ($6). The "anime-style, robot fighting action" game has players fighting through 11 distinct levels of action with varied weaponry and a techno-dance soundtrack.
Gamers looking to add to their existing games can download new content for Mindjack. Map Pack 1 ($7) for the shooter will include new multiplayer maps. The Airport Shootout and Construction Carnage maps have gamers defending themselves against waves of enemies, while the Container Maze battlefield sees players winding their way through shipping containers to outflank snipers.
Switching to the PSP storefront, Sony added two new titles to the download space this week, the first of which is Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together ($40). Tactics Ogre is a remake featuring extra subplots, new and redesigned characters, and added gameplay mechanics that allow players to turn back time, either to change the story's direction by revisiting key plot points or to replay critical points of individual battles for a better outcome.
The other PSP title out now is TNT Racers ($8). From dtp Entertainment, the zany racy title has up to four players racing around 18 distinct courses using power-ups like the confetti mines, candy cannon, space rockets, and other items to thwart the progress of competitors. The title also boasts online leaderboards, 45 challenges to compete in, time trials, and custom races.
Gamers looking to the past for fun can download three new PSOne Classics this week. Out now on the PSN is tactical role-playing game Saiyuki Journey West ($6), fighting game Destrega ($6), and strategy game Romance of the Three Kingdoms IV: Wall of Fire ($6).
A full list of the week's deals and new PlayStation Store content, including themes, wallpapers, demos, discounts, and add-on content, is available on the PlayStation Blog.
Mindjack didn't win much praise from critics upon its release for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 last month, but the Square Enix action shooter did pick up plaudits for its online modes. Gamers who agree will be pleased to know that Square Enix confirmed today two downloadable map packs will be released for Mindjack, the first of which debuts this week.
Map Pack 1 will be available through Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network on February 15, carrying a $7 (560 Microsoft points) price tag. Within it, gamers will find three new multiplayer maps. The Airport Shootout and Construction Carnage maps have gamers defending themselves against waves of enemies, while the Container Maze battlefield sees players winding their way through shipping containers to outflank snipers.
The second map pack will launch on Microsoft and Sony's systems on March 8, and it will also include three new playfields for $7. As with Map Pack 1, Map Pack 2 contains two arenas--Neon Nightmare and Look Up, Look Down--where surviving waves of enemies is the name of the game. In Truth at Nerkas HQ, gamers will work their way through a maze of buildings to take enemies by surprise.
Developed by feelplus, Mindjack places players in the turbulent world of 2031, when the planet is beset with political unrest. They will assume the role of Jim Corbijn, a federal agent equipped with high-tech devices that allow him to "hack" into enemies, civilians, and vehicles to control them.
For more on Mindjack, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.
First out of the gate this week on WiiWare is Bigben Interactive's Pucca's Kisses Game (500 Wii points, or $5). The title casts players as a young lady named Pucca who wants nothing more than to score a kiss from a ninja named Garu. Garu wants nothing to do with Pucca, but the young woman is resilient. The title sees players controlling Pucca through an interactive cartoon that plays out in episodes, ultimately leading to her encounter with Garu.
Nintendo also added two new WiiWare demos to the hub today, the first of which is for chick chick BOOM. The title has players flinging an array of artillery items like pianos, pink elephants, and sumo chicks at their opponents.
The other WiiWare demo now available is for Chronos Twins DX. Players can download the sample experience and try out the title, which mixes platforming, action, adventure, and puzzles.
Switching to the DSiWare, Nintendo added three new titles to the download space today, the first of which is Treasure Hunter X (200 DSi points, or $2). From Agetech Inc., the game has players traveling to the depths of canyons looking for treasure and other rare artifacts.
Also out now on DSiWare is Oscar in Toyland 2 (500 DSi points, or $5). The sequel to the 2009 original, Toyland 2 adds seven new worlds to the game. Players are tasked with swimming, flying, and running through the worlds to collect infant Oscars scattered throughout the terrain.
The last new DSiWare title out now is Panda Craze (500 DSi points, or $5). From TikGames, the puzzle title thrusts players into the paws of Tik-Ling, a female panda. As Tik-Ling, players will collect magical lanterns on each stage, and once all are collected, the next stage unlocks. Panda Craze sports 150 distinct levels in all, and new abilities and tools can be unlocked along the way.
Activision's Call of Duty: Black Ops outpaced its predecessor Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 in the sales department, racking up $650 million in sales in its first five days compared to Modern Warfare 2's $550 million. Now, the new shooter has stolen another record from its predecessor.
Black Ops' First Strike add-on pack--which debuted on the Xbox 360 on February 1--was downloaded 1.4 million times over the span of its first 24 hours of availability. That rate bests Modern Warfare 2's Stimulus Package content--which moved about 1 million units in its first day--by a hefty 25 percent.
As for the content, the First Strike map pack includes four new multiplayer environments ranging in locale from the Berlin Wall in Germany to a North American hockey rink. The add-on also bundles one environment for the game's zombie mode dubbed Ascension. It is scheduled to arrive on the PlayStation 3 on March 3 and on the PC at a later date.
For more on the maps within the content, check out GameSpot's video preview of the First Strike downloadable content embedded below.
Yesterday Activision announced it had disbanded its Guitar Hero unit and that is has poured more resources into its Call of Duty franchise. While Activision's long-term vision for the shooter series is not yet known, the immediate future is.
According to a post on the PlayStation Blog from Treyarch community manager Josh Olin, the First Strike map pack for Call of Duty: Black Ops will arrive on Sony's PlayStation 3 on March 3. It will bear the same $15 price point of its Xbox 360 counterpart, which debuted on February 1.
As for the content, the map pack includes four new multiplayer environments ranging in locale from the Berlin Wall in Germany to a North American hockey rink. The add-on also bundles one environment for the game's zombie mode dubbed Ascension.
When the content arrives for Sony's console in March, the PC will be the only platform to not yet welcome First Strike. Activision has announced that the content will arrive for the PC sometime later in the quarter but has yet to affix a price or release date for the digital wares.
For more on the maps within the content, check out GameSpot's video preview of the First Strike downloadable content embedded below.
In 2009, DC's superhero comic Batman made a successful leap into the world of games with the critically acclaimed Batman: Arkham Asylum. Now that franchise is getting back to its roots, as DC Comics today announced a miniseries tied in to the upcoming sequel, Batman: Arkham City.
Starting in May, the six-issue Batman: Arkham City will serve as a connecting story between Arkham Asylum and this fall's follow-up. Batman: The Animated Series writer Paul Dini will once again be chronicling the Caped Crusader's adventures in the series, with the game's concept artist, Carlos D'anda, handling the visuals. In addition to the six full issues, DC will be releasing a series of eight-page interludes online for $0.99 each. For print purists, those comics (which aren't crucial to the main storyline) will be published in a collected edition at a later date.
Like its predecessor, the Arkham City game drops Batman in the confines of an unconventional prison. But where Arkham Asylum stuck players in the halls and courtyards of a mental hospital overrun with the Joker's goons and allies, Arkham City deposits them in a sprawling neighborhood of Gotham City that has been walled off to contain the criminal element.
Under the watchful eye of "warden" Dr. Hugo Strange, who knows Batman's secret identity, inmates of Arkham City are free to do anything they want short of attempting escape. In addition to Strange, the game will feature Batman villains like Two-Face and the Joker.
Arkham City is set for release on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC this fall. For more on the game, check out GameSpot's recent interview with the game's director, Sefton Hill.
Leading the pack this week on the PSN is Double Fine's Stacking ($15). The game is now available to download and follows the story of Charlie Blackmore, the smallest of a family of Russian stacking dolls, as he aims to reunite his family after they become separated in the wake of tough economic times. The game's puzzle element involves stacking the dolls and making use of each one's different abilities to overcome challenges that often have multiple solutions. Players will unlock more dolls as the game progresses and Charlie's story unfolds.
Also out now is Explodemon ($10). From Curve Studios, the platforming title has players vaulting into the shoes of the "ultimate badass exploder dude" Explodemon and trekking through 12 distinct levels filled with secret areas, puzzles, and deadly traps.
Gamers who would rather eat humans can purchase and download Tales From Space: About a Blob ($15) today. Available last week to PlayStation Plus subscribers, the title is now available to all PSN users. As for the title, About a Blob is a puzzle platformer that casts players as a blob, an alien creature embedded on Earth to eat the entire population.
The last title arriving on the PS3 storefront this week is PopCap's Plants vs. Zombies ($15). The PS3 version of the famous undead strategy title has players defending their home from a swarm of undead attempting to break in. The title boasts a two-player versus mode, as well as a cooperative experience.
Traveling back through time, Sony added three new PS One Classics to its download space this week, the first of which is Capcom's fighting title Pocket Fighter ($6). The other two nostalgic titles now available are Reel Fishing II ($6) and Natsume's Harvest Moon: Back to Nature ($6).
Music gamers have a bevy of options to choose from this week. Def Jam: Rapstar adds songs from T.I., Digital Underground, Far East Movement, and F.L.Y. Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock welcomes the February Mega Pack, which bundles songs from Marilyn Manson, Black Label Society, Children of Bodom, and Firewind. Lastly, Rock Band 3 adds eight new Bob Marley jams.
A full list of the week's deals and new PlayStation Store content, including themes, wallpapers, demos, discounts, and add-on content, is available on the PlayStation Blog.
If the old adage that there's no such thing as bad publicity is true, Electronic Arts' marketing department must be busting out the bubbly. That's because one of its highest profile first-quarter releases, Bulletstorm, was just roundly slammed in a scathing article on FoxNews.com.
Titled "Is Bulletstorm the Worst Video Game in the World?" the piece criticizes the game for linking sex and violence via innuendo-laden awards in its skillshot system. Award names for feats of in-game carnage include Gag Reflex, Rear Entry, Drilldo, Mile High Club, Gang Bang, and Topless.
The article then goes on to quote two experts who decry the game as being potentially harmful. Dr. Jerry Weichman, a psychologist at the Hoag Neurosciences Institute in Southern California, told FoxNews.com that "If a younger kid experiences Bulletstorm's explicit language and violence, the damage could be significant."
Carol Lieberman, a psychologist and book author, went one step further, linking sexual content in games to a spike in sexual assaults. "The increase in rapes can be attributed in large part to the playing out of [sexual] scenes in video games," she said. (In fact, statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice show rapes declined by nearly 40 percent in 2009.)
FoxNews.com also contacted the Entertainment Consumer Association's Hal Halpin, who equated the ultraviolence in Bulletstorm to that found in some films. "I respect the creative rights of game developers to make a game like Bulletstorm in the same way that I appreciate Quentin Tarantino's right to make over-the-top movies like Kill Bill," said Halpin.
When the subject of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) came up, Halpin defended the current system as it is. Fox also quoted University of Maryland professor Melanie Killen, who advocates the regulation of game sales to minors.
"The marketing is clearly aimed at children and young adolescents," Killen said. "Politicians were organizing efforts to address violent video games prior to the presidential election but got distracted by the election. It is time for senators and representatives to come back to the issue."
For more on this topic, read GameSpot Editor-in-Chief Ricardo Torres' editorial on the Fox News article.
Microsoft has already publicized a number of big names that will be on hand at its Xbox Live House Party, telling gamers to expect appearances from Beyond Good & Evil, Bejeweled, and others. Now, the publisher has given gamers the heads-up on when it will be getting that party started.
Konami's Hard Corps: Uprising will be first out the door on February 16 and will cost 1,200 Microsoft points ($15). Developed by Arc System Works, the 2D side-scrolling shooter sees players assuming the role of the soldier Bahamut as part of a prequel story to Contra: Hard Corps.
On February 23, PopCap Games will deliver the latest installment in its addictive gem-matching puzzle franchise, Bejeweled Blitz Live. The MSP 800 ($10) title offers both classic and twist gameplay modes where gamers can compete to top leaderboards. The game also features a 16-player Party mode playable through Xbox Live.
Beyond Good & Evil HD follows on March 2 and will cost MSP 800 ($10). An update of Ubisoft's well-regarded action adventure Beyond Good & Evil from 2003, the Beyond Good & Evil redux will feature 1080p graphics, including enhanced character models and upgraded textures, and Ubisoft has also remastered the game's musical score.
Runic's Diablo-esque dungeon crawler Torchlight gained accolades on the PC in 2009, selling more than 800,000 units to date. That hack-and-slash loot-grabbing experience comes to Xbox Live on March 9 and will cost MSP 1,200 ($15).
Microsoft and Krome studios will be closing out the House Party on March 16 with Full House Poker. Specializing in Texas Hold 'Em-style poker, the downloadable title deals hands for two, or players can join 30-player online tournaments. Full House Poker also features a Windows Phone 7 companion title. It will cost gamers MSP 800 ($10).