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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The GameSpot crew has landed in Japan for the Tokyo Game Show 2007, an event which this year is set to run an extra day and be bigger than ever before.
The Makuhari Messe convention centre, where the TGS is held every year, is set outside of Tokyo in the city of Chiba, close to Tokyo Disneyland--incidentally the third most visited theme park in the world.
Last year, 192,411 people attended the event, and this year the organisers the Computer Entertainment Suppliers Association are expecting even more--in a drastic contrast to the downsized Electronic Entertainment Expo which took place in July in Santa Monica.
The opening keynote speech this year will be made by Sony Computer Entertainment President and group CEO Kaz Hirai, on the topic of 'A Look At Our Business Strategy Toward New Growth: The Expanding PlayStation World.
This year's TGS is running from September 20 to 23. Check out GameSpot's complete coverage of the 2007 Tokyo Game Show for complete coverage of Hirai's presentation and more news and previews from Japan's biggest gaming event.
Microsoft seems to have developed a taste for games with a loopy streak of late. In August, famed oddball game designer Jeff Minter released his psychedelic ungulate tribute Space Giraffe over Xbox Live, to cautiously optimistic reviews. The latest title to render Xbox Live gamers' mouths agape is Strawdog Studios' vibe-tapping power-pellet muncher Geon: Emotions, which arrives on Microsoft's online service this Wednesday.
First revealed as part of Xbox Live's summer update, Geon Emotions charges players to square off in a test of wills, using their emotions such as fear, anger, courage, and bliss to defeat their enemies. What, exactly, that means has yet to be deciphered, but publisher Eidos is also promising "next-gen" visuals and a "pulse-pounding soundtrack." Those in touch with their inner selves will be able to compete in a single-player mode as well as competitively or cooperatively online for up to four players. Geon: Emotions is rated E for Everyone and will be available for 800 Microsoft points ($10).
Sega has released a two-track teaser of Sega Rally Revo on Xbox Live today. Tabbing in at nearly 692MB, the demo lets players rip through the canyon and tropical tracks in either the Mitsubishi Evo IX FQ3 or the Subaru Impreza STi Spec C type RA.
Developed by Sega Driving Studio, Sega Rally Revo on consoles is the first iteration of the acclaimed racing series to make it stateside since 1999's Sega Rally Championship 2. As detailed in GameSpot's previous coverage, the game features more than 30 vehicles in a variety of highly deformable environments. Rated E for Everyone, Sega Rally Revo will cruise onto the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC in October. Bugbear Entertainment is also developing a PlayStation Portable version of the game.
CNN is citing a report in the Beijing News today that a 30-year-old man in Guangzhou, China, died on Saturday following a three-day gaming marathon. Though no single game was fingered as an accessory after the fact, the man reportedly fainted in the midst of his virtual binge at the Internet cafe and was pronounced dead after paramedics were unable to revive him. Aside from the victim's age, no other vital statistics were revealed, though the report did note that around 100 other cafe patrons vacated the premises "in fear after witnessing the man's death."
Gaming cafes have claimed the lives of several other individuals in the past. In 2005, a 28-year-old South Korean man died after a 50-hour gaming session. In 2002, a 24-year-old South Korean man died after 86 uninterrupted hours of gameplay. That same month, a 27-year-old Taiwanese man lasted 32 hours before succumbing to death by exhaustion.
Although EA and Namco Bandai won't send Cerberus packing until Halloween, a few select patrons will be able to pass through Hellgate: London's entrance beginning today. Developer Flagship Studios is now taking volunteers to beta-test the online portion of its upcoming postapocalyptic role-playing game through its Web site. (Note: The beta sign-up page seems to currently be experiencing intermittent connectivity issues.)
In development by the team behind Blizzard's original Diablo, Hellgate: London looks set to meld in an unholy union the fast-paced action of shooters with the obsessive components of role-playing games. Those who preorder the $49.99 standard or $59.99 collector's edition of Hellgate: London will be granted access to Hellgate's online beta until October 7. In addition, preorderers will be eligible to purchase a lifetime subscription to the game for $149.99 and will receive exclusive armor dyes for in-game characters.
After the game's initial purchase, Hellgate: London's single-player campaign can be played either for free or upgraded to an Elite subscription account at $9.95 per month, which confers MMOG functionality to the title. It is rated M for Mature and goes on sale October 31.
Following up on its hyperviolent PlayStation 3 launch title Resistance: Fall of Man, Insomniac Games will soon be revisiting its far cuter--and arguably more lethal--heroes in Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction. Those not tided over by GameSpot's recent coverage of the game can now pick up a demo at their local GameStop.
The sampler, which is apparently exclusive to the retailer, is available for those who preorder the game and lay down five bucks toward the PlayStation 3-exclusive's purchase price. According to a GameStop representative, the demo contains the first level of the adventure-style platformer. Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction goes on sale October 23. It has not yet been rated.
Soon, Tiger Woods PGA Tour and Wii Sports won't be the only Wii golf games on the green. Capcom announced today that it is readying We Love Golf! for a 2008 release in North America. The game lets players traverse the virtual links with a variety of clubs in multiple, as-yet unannounced game modes. As expected, the game will rely on the Wii Remote's motion-sensing technology for swinging and adding spin to the ball.
Camelot Software Planning will be developing We Love Golf!. The Japanese studio has been responsible for several popular golf titles, such as Hot Shots Golf for the original PlayStation and Mario Golf on the Nintendo 64. Sega fans may also know Camelot as the creators of the Shining in the Darkness series of games, which have recently been revived on Nintendo's Virtual Console.
Never ones to circumvent a controversy, Take-Two ruffled more than a few feathers with the inclusion of exceptionally talented football star and questionably acquitted murder suspect OJ Simpson in All-Pro Football 2K8. The move was made all the more controversial when players realized that Simpson could be assigned to the fictional Assassins team, knife-wielding mascot and all.
In August, Reuters reported that Simpson was to fork over royalties paid to him for his appearance in the game to the family of Ron Goldman as part of the still-outstanding $33.5 million civil-suit judgment against the Juice. However, the exact amount Simpson received was not revealed at the time, though he was also ordered to turn over any legal documentation associated with the deal.
Sleuthing through the contract between Take-Two and Simpson, TheStreet has discovered that OJ received $50,000 for lending his likeness to the football sim. Simpson was paid in two installments, with $25,000 exchanging hands shortly after signing on to the game in January, and the remainder disbursed upon All-Pro 2K8's release in July. The contract also notes that, were it renewed for two more years, Simpson would receive a further $50,000.
Though the gaming industry, along with many others, has proven itself less than responsible when it comes to the open nature of Wikipedia, the user-created online knowledge compendium still has the potential to do good. One such contender is the Wikia Gaming Network, which officially launched today.
With 250,000-plus articles already amassed in its network, the WGN acts as a hub for community-supported Wiki sites pertaining to more than 400 games. Visitors are encouraged to contribute to the communal knowledge consortium with strategy guides, game information, or new developments in games such as World of Warcraft, Halo, and Final Fantasy.
When asked if Epic Games ever planned to release a game on the Nintendo Wii, studio vice president Mark Rein famously said the console "couldn't handle" the Unreal Engine 3. This week, though, California-based Emergent Game Technologies, makers of the easy-on-the-eyes Gamebryo Engine, announced they had specifically optimized their game tech to work on the Wii as part of Nintendo's Third Party Tools program.
"With the success of Nintendo's Wii console catching much of the industry off guard and offering fresh interactive features, developers need new tools to be able to develop for multiple platforms that offer vastly different capabilities and require different programming techniques," said Emergent CEO Geoffrey Selzer in a statement.
Though Sid Meier's Pirates! and the forthcoming Warhammer Online also use the Gamebryo engine, it is most famous for powering Bethesda Softworks' The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3). Though no Gamebryo-powered title has yet been announced for the Wii, a likely candidate is the console-tailored 2008 strategy title Civilization Revolutions, given that its PC cousin Civilization IV uses the engine.
From NBA Live 08/NBA 2K8 to The Orange Box to Project Gotham Racing, the first two weeks of October aren't likely to afford ardent Xbox 360 owners time enough to drive to their local game retailers. Two more big releases for the week--Activision's webcrawler Spider-Man: Friend or Foe and EA's annual footballer FIFA 08--now have free trials on Xbox Live.
In the 431MB Friend or Foe demo, players can enlist their trusty sidekick for co-op play or sling away solo through the towering skyscrapers of downtown Tokyo as either Spider-Man, Green Goblin, or Venom. Friend or Foe will be available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, PC, Wii, and Nintendo DS on October 2, and is rated E10+ for Everyone 10 and Older.
For EA's soccer sampler, players can take to the pitch for a quick match of footie. FIFA 08 is available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Wii, Nintendo DS, and PC on October 9, with the PlayStation 3 version following on October 16. It is rated E for Everyone.
With reviewers calling the first Company of Heroes a "stand-out title" in the overplayed WWII scene, Relic lead designer Josh Mosqueira noted to GameSpot in May that the original Company of Heroes was just the starting point for the series. Looking to once again give real-time strategy an army-issued boot to the gut, THQ announced today that Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts has gone gold and will go to retail for PCs later this month.
Opposing Fronts is a stand-alone expansion to GameSpot's 2006 Strategy Game of the Year. Players will have access to two new factions--the British 2nd and the Panzer Elite armies--and two new single-player campaigns. Opposing Fronts also features a revamped multiplayer experience that includes automatching, observer mode, and revised stat tracking. The game is rated M for Mature and will retail for $39.99.
Branding snack-food staples, check. Renting out an IMAX theater, check. Leasing a checkout lane from one of the largest retailers in the world, check. In the latest development of the $10 million-plus marketing campaign for Bungie's sci-fi shooter Halo 3, Microsoft has teamed with Wal-Mart to provide dedicated checkout lanes during the midnight launch events at select stores. In addition to offering "the fastest way to play," Wal-Mart will be handing out Halo 3 dog tag tchotchkes while supplies last.
Best Buy has also jumped on the Halo-hype bandwagon. The electronics giant is currently sponsoring Halo 3 picture packs and themes on Xbox Live. In case it isn't yet painfully obvious, Halo 3 will be available for the Xbox 360 on September 25. It is rated M for Mature. Many Best Buy locations will be holding midnight launch events--call your nearest location for details.
The Entertainment Software Association has named former Sony Computer Entertainment chief Ken Kutaragi as the 2008 Champion Honoree for its annual Nite to Unite for Kids charity event. Fingered as the cause for both the dramatic rise and current woes of the PlayStation brand, Kutaragi retired from his position as SCE chairman and CEO in June. Previous honerees include LucasArts founder George Lucas, GameStop's Dan DeMatteo, and Electronic Arts' Bing Gordon.
Since its inception in 1999, the ESA's NTU event has raised more than $7.8 million for children's charities such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and the Starlight Starbright Foundation. Chairing this year's event will be Microsoft's Robbie Bach, Sony's Jack Tretton, and Nintendo's Reggie Fils-Aime. The Nite to Unite for Kids will be held at the Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco on October 17, with tickets starting at $500.
Shaming the competition into submission just before their big debut is common and natural skate-park etiquette. With Electronic Arts set to drop Skate later this week for the Xbox 360, Activision has rolled past Xbox Live flourishing a handstand with a demo of Tony Hawk's Proving Ground in an effort to remind prospective consumers that the reigning champ hasn't lost his crown just yet.
Weighing in at a substantial 1.04GB, the free trial of Tony Hawk's Proving Ground takes players to the City of Brotherly Love. As detailed in GameSpot's recent hands-on with the demo, the streets of Philadelphia will give players a chance to try out a few of Proving Ground's new features, such as the video editor and environment modifier. Tony Hawk's Proving Ground is slated for an October release on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, Wii, and Nintendo DS. It has been rated T for Teen.
British football demigod David Beckham is apparently playing soccer in the US now. News, right? Indicative of the sport's massive popularity everywhere other than the US, California-based megapublisher Electronic Arts revealed today that it has tapped a global roster of artists for the soundtrack to this year's FIFA Soccer 08.
The soundtrack is set to feature tunes from 50 artists hailing from 27 different countries. According to EA, highlights from the lineup include CSS (Brazil), Datarock (Norway), Dover (Spain), Ivy Queen (Puerto Rico), Junkie XL (Holland), Maximo Park (UK), Mexican Institute of Sound (Mexico), Peter Bjorn & John (Sweden), Planet Funk (Italy), Simian Mobile Disco (UK), Superbus (France), The Cat Empire (Australia), and Wir Sind Helden (Germany). A full song list and sample tracks are available through EA's FIFA 08 Web site.
FIFA 08 will arrive on North American shores for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, Wii, Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable, PC, and mobile on October 9. The PlayStation 3 version follows a week later on October 16. The game will be available on all platforms in Europe on September 28.
It's difficult to conceive how id Software's seminal shoot-first, count-the-dead-later franchises could be bungled as summer-blockbuster action flicks. That is, until the Andrzej Bartkowiak-directed Doom tanked critically and commercially in 2005. However, with the revelation early last month that Roger Avary (Pulp Fiction, Silent Hill) would be at the helm of the Return to Castle Wolfenstein movie, many had cause for hope that the latest game-to-film translation wouldn't be a disaster.
In a recent interview with Ain't It Cool News, Avary gave the first details on his upcoming "guys on a mission" WWII action film. Acknowledging the complaint many gamers have concerning the treatment of their beloved game franchises, Avary noted that while the movie will still be about "blowing s*** up, storming bunkers, busting dams, derailing trains, and killing Nazis," it won't strictly adhere to the game's plot.
"Whenever someone whines to me about breaking canon...I remind them that the original book, video game, or poem will ALWAYS exist in its original form for their enjoyment, but that a movie has special needs and compromises that occur due to a variety of real-world constrictions," said Avary. He went on to emphasize that it is more important to be true to the spirit of the character and franchise than it is to adhere to the game's plot.
While light on the specifics, Avary said that he would be blending Wolfenstein's signature larger-than-life style with "a certain quotient of reality." The movie would heavily incorporate the titular chateau during WWII in Europe, though action would also take place in surrounding locations. As for casting, Avary is interested in known European actors for more prominent roles like Dr. Otto Giftmacher and Hilda von Bulow. For the lead role of B.J. Blazkowicz, Avary somewhat cryptically stated, "All one needs to do is look at the box art on the Return to Castle Wolfenstein game and you can see who I see in my mind for the role."
Avary hopes to begin filming Return to Castle Wolfenstein next spring, barring any interference from a looming film-industry strike. It is unclear if the Wolfenstein film's release will be coordinated with that of Raven Software's new Wolfenstein game for the Xbox 360 and PC.
For Guitar Hero fans who find that going Pete Townshend on a plastic toy guitar after a monster encore is a little anti-climactic, a company called Art Guitar is offering an alternative with a little more heft. The company is now taking preorders for a life-size alternative to RedOctane's official ax, the limited edition AG Riff Master Guitar Controller for the PlayStation 2.
The AG Riff Master is actually a real guitar from Peavey, but it's been heavily modified to have the standard Guitar Hero fret buttons and strum bar embedded within it. The strings have been removed so players can actually use the guitar to play the game, but the rest of the guitar--including the rosewood neck, tuning pegs, and frets--are all intact.
As for the body design, Art Guitar's first offering will feature the iconic masters of merchandizing, KISS, decked out in full stage garb and ready to rock and roll all night, with the obligatory partying every day to follow. KISS is no stranger to the series, having lent their song "Strutter" to Guitar Hero II, and having signed the aforereferenced "Rock and Roll All Nite" to appear in Guitar Hero III.
Authenticity and eye-catching novelty have a price, however. The AG Master Riff will sell for $399. And those who like the idea of the guitar but don't cotton to KISS can take heart; Art Guitar plans to announce a variety of other body designs for the AG Master Riff in the coming months.
Infinity Ward's Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare has been met with an enthusiastic response since its impressive showing at this year's E3 Media & Business Summit. For gamers looking to get more out of the modern-day shooter, Activision today announced that the Xbox 360 and PC versions of the game would be receiving a limited Collector's Edition. Both special editions will come packed in with a hardcover book depicting concept and final artwork, as well as "never-before-seen imagery" from the game. Pricing information for the package was not revealed, though GameStop is currently listing the Xbox 360 package for $69.99 and the PC edition for $59.99.
Specific to the Xbox 360 Collector's Edition will be a behind-the-scenes DVD containing interviews, a series of "making of" shorts, and a documentary chronicling the exploits of the British SAS from WWII to present day. The PC Collector's Edition will include a BradyGames official strategy guide.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is rated M for Mature and will storm retail shelves on November 5 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. GameSpot is handing out 20,000 multiplayer beta keys each day for the remainder of this week for the Xbox 360 version of the game.
Gabe Newell's recent claims to the contrary notwithstanding, Valve has bumped The Orange Box from its projected October 9 release date to October 10. However, PC gamers may not be too terribly broken up about the minor delay, given that the developer revealed today that those who prepurchase The Orange Box through Steam--Valve's downloadable game service--will receive exclusive access to the Team Fortress 2 beta on September 17.
Team Fortress 2 adds a cartoony vibe to the over-the-top action of the original Team Fortress Quake mod. It will be included in The Orange Box along with Half-Life 2, its Episode One and Episode Two expansions, and Portal. In addition to Team Fortress 2 beta access, prepurchasers of The Orange Box through Steam will receive a 10 percent discount and a free copy of casual game Peggle Extreme.