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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Though today marks the summer solstice and the official start to summer, today's Xbox Live update does not kick off Microsoft's 2011 Summer of Arcade promotion. However, that doesn't mean new games and content aren't available from the storefront.
Leading the pack this week on Xbox Live is Double Fine's Trenched, which will be released on Xbox Live Arcade tomorrow. The game drafts players into the Mobile Trench Brigade, which has been charged with protecting Earth from an evil invading force of television-like technical terrors known as the Monovision. To fend off the electrical invaders, players will jump into giant mechanized mobile Trenches that they can customize to their tastes.
A hybridization of the third-person shooter and tower defense genres, Trenched sees players erecting stationary defensive constructions and lurching about in their mechs. Trenched will also feature an online co-op mode, where gamers can join up with other players throughout the world to battle the invading force.
Duke Nukem Forever--despite a 14-year development cycle--got a cold reception when it shipped last week. Now, gamers looking to try before they buy can pick up a free demo for the title before heading out to potentially buy the game.
Gamers looking to add to their copies of Rockstar Games' L.A. Noire can grab a new arson case today. The Nicholson Electroplating Disaster DLC (320 MS points, or $4) is now available to download from Xbox Live. It tasks players with solving the case of an explosion in Los Angeles.
Microsoft added three new titles to the Games on Demand hub today, the first of which is film tie-in game Tron: Evolution ($40). The other two new full-game downloads are the simulation game Tropico 3 ($20) and Destroy All Humans! Path of the Furon ($40).
Next Tuesday, Call of Duty: Black Ops will welcome its third batch of post-release add-on content in the form of the Annihilation map pack on Xbox Live. However, that might not be the only new Black Ops content premiering next week, if a retailer listing proves accurate.
Specialty retailer GameStop has listed "Call of Duty: Black Ops Limited Edition with DLC" for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, with a ship date pegged for next Tuesday, June 28.
Activision has not formally announced the purported bundle, and as of press time, the publisher has not responded to GameSpot's request for comment or clarification on the matter.
Though BioWare has confirmed it is already at work at Dragon Age III, the studio isn't ready to leave Dragon Age II behind.
Series developer BioWare today announced that it will attend the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con next month and that it's bringing never-before-seen Dragon Age II downloadable content with it. The show runs July 21-24 in San Diego.
According to the statement on BioWare's website, gamers who visit BioWare's booth at the show will be able to get their hands on the to-be-named content for Dragon Age II. Unfortunately, further details--like a name or release date--were not mentioned.
When Batman: Arkham City breaks out this October, gamers will be able to suit up as the Dark Knight and lay waste to the city's shadowy villains. However, the Caped Crusader isn't going to own the spotlight alone.
Warner Bros. today announced that it has partnered with national electronics retailer Best Buy to offer Batman sidekick Robin as a playable character in Arkham City's Challenge mode as part of the "Tim Drake Robin pack." The pack is available to those who preorder the game for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.
Robin boasts his own distinct gadgets and other "special moves," though none were named. Further, gamers who preorder at Best Buy will score two extra challenge maps: Black Mask Hideout and Freight Train Escape. Lastly, gamers who preorder Arkham City at the retailer will score a "Red Robin" skin.
Like its well-received predecessor, Arkham City 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.
For more on the title, check out GameSpot's most recent hands-on preview with Batman: Arkham City.
At its E3 2011 media briefing, Ubisoft officially announced Just Dance 3, the latest entry in the dancing series that has sold over 10 million copies to date. That game is due out this October, but players hoping to cut a rug earlier can pick up a new Just Dance title this July, if a retailer listing proves accurate.
Online retailer Amazon has posted a listing for Just Dance Summer Party, saying it is due to ship for the Wii on July 19. According to the product's description, Summer Party will include 20 new songs stemming from the '80s, '90s, and today.
The entire tracklisting was not named, but three tunes were: Katy Perry's "Firework," Rihanna's "Pon De Replay," and Lou Bega's "Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit of Monika)." Additionally, the game's box art (at right) shows that Estelle's "American Boy" will also be featured in the game.
Ubisoft has not officially announced the game, but a publisher representative told GameSpot, "I can confirm this game is coming out."
As for Just Dance 3--due out on October 11--that game will be the first entry in the series to be released outside of the Wii and will support the Kinect and PlayStation Move for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 iterations of the game.
As Activision's CEO, Bobby Kotick's job often has him dealing with talent, as he did when signing Bungie to a 10-year exclusive publishing deal. Now the executive is the talent himself.
Spotted in the first trailer for the upcoming baseball movie Moneyball is none other than Kotick. The film focuses on Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) and his struggle to build a successful team on a limited budget.
It is unclear as to how large a role Kotick will play in the film (he is not credited on the film's IMDB page), but he appears to play the A's franchise owner. He is seen in the trailer at the 17-second mark behind a desk, speaking like the executive he actually is.
"We're not New York. Find players with the money we do have," he says.
Rounding out the cast of Moneyball--due September 23--is Jonah Hill (Superbad, Grandma's Boy), Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Big Lebowski, Capote), Robin Wright (Forrest Gump, The Princess Bride), and Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation, The O.C.). The film is being directed by Bennet Miller, with Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin attached as screenwriters.
As was widely suspected yesterday, Call of Duty: Black Ops will expand this month with an all-new map pack, due out first on Xbox Live.
Titled Annihilation, the new add-on for Treyarch's blockbuster hit will arrive on Xbox Live on June 28. The content will follow the precedent set by past add-ons First Strike and Escalation, in that it will be composed of four fresh multiplayer maps and one zombie level.
The new killing spaces included in the downloadable content are Hangar 18, Silo, Drive-In, and Hazard. Unfortunately, no further information was offered concerning the maps. The zombie level is titled Shangri-La, described by Activision as "an exotic and mysterious map."
Activision did not set a price for the Annihilation DLC in its announcement today, but previous map packs debuted for 1,200 Microsoft points ($15). There was no mention made of when the content will arrive on the PlayStation Network or for the PC.
For more on the Annihilation content, check out its first trailer, embedded below.
Since Crytek's well-received Crysis 2 launched in March, it's shipped over 2 million units and welcomed its first batch of post-release add-on content in the form of the multiplayer Retaliation pack. Now, the crysis is continuing with new content available today.
Publisher Electronic Arts this week announced the Decimation pack for Crysis 2. The $10 content is now available for the Xbox 360 and PC, and it is scheduled to arrive for the PlayStation 3 on June 28.
The pack includes five new multiplayer environments: 5th Avenue, Chasm, Plaza, Prism, and Apartments. In addition to the new killing spaces, the content includes two fresh weapons: the long-range-designed FY71 and the smoke grenade.
For more on the Decimation pack, check out its trailer, embedded below.
Just last week Sony brought its Qriocity video and music streaming service back online, following more than a month of downtime stemming from the PlayStation Network outage. Today, Sony has announced where it plans to take Qriocity next: Android devices.
Available today in the Android marketplace is a Music Unlimited application powered by Sony's Qriocity. The application is free and lets users stream more than 7 million songs from all four major labels to their mobile devices.
While the application is free, gamers wishing to actually listen to music will need to sign up for a Music Unlimited plan. A basic $3.99/month subscription lets users listen to predetermined playlists, a la Pandora. A premium plan costs $9.99/month and lets users play any song they wish on demand, in addition to offering a range of other exclusive features.
Leading the pack this week on the PlayStation Network is Ubisoft's Outland ($10). The publisher has previously said Outland was inspired by "epic adventures such as the Prince of Persia series" and Treasure's vertically scrolling arcade shooter Ikaruga. In Ikaruga, players could swap the color of their ship between black and white at will; each color could absorb bullets of the same shade, allowing skilled players to weave their way through otherwise impenetrable barrages of enemy fire. Outland brings the same mechanic to a side-scrolling action game, with blue and red enemies representing the forces of light and dark.
Also out now in the store is Magic: The Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 ($10). The game follows 2009's Duels of the Planeswalkers and again tasks players with using their cards to defeat opponents and bosses. The game also sports a new Archenemy multiplayer mode, where players can team up with up to three others to take on AI opponents.
Gamers looking to hurl CO2-propelled balls of paint at one another can grab Greg Hastings Paintball 2 ($20) today. Bearing the name of one of the sport's icons, the game has players ballin' alongside or against other real players in 62 unique environments based on locations scattered throughout the globe. Greg Hastings Paintball 2 also supports Sony's PlayStation Move and allows for seven-on-seven online play.
Players desiring an open-world racer can pick up Rockstar's Midnight Club Los Angeles: Complete Edition ($20) today from the PlayStation Network. The package includes 2008's well-received street racing game, as well as the South Central area, new vehicles, aftermarket parts, and additional missions and races.
The final new PlayStation 3 game out now on the PlayStation Network is Akimi Village ($10). Developed by NinjaBee--the creator of A World of Keflings--the game casts players as either a male or female character tasked with purifying an island in the sky. Players will accomplish this by building a village on the island and spreading light to free the land from the clutches of the nefarious Gloom.
Switching to add-on content, Rock Band welcomes six new tunes this week for music gamers. New songs from Live, A-Ha, Chumbawamba, and Avenged Sevenfold are available today in the Rock Band Store for $2 each.
Gamers who picked up a new copy of the well-received Alice: Madness Returns this week were given a single-use code to download the original Alice game for free. However, that isn't the only way to pick up American McGee's Alice, as it is now available in the PlayStation Store for $10.
On the mini front, Sony brought three new games out this week, headlined by The 2D Adventures of Rotating Octopus Character ($4). The other two new minis out now are Babel: The King of the Blocks ($3) and Run Ghost Run ($3).
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.
Valve's digital download service Steam has over 1,500 games and 30 million users, but today, it added something it never had: free-to-play games.
Valve announced today that it has rolled out its first line of free-to-play games for Steam, beginning with five launch titles: Spiral Knights, Forsaken Worlds, Champions Online: Free for All, Global Agenda: Free Agent, and Alliance of Valiant Arms.
The free-to-play games do not require a subscription or a credit card to play. However, should gamers wish to purchase in-game items or other content they will need to fill their Steam wallet with funds.
To celebrate the free-to-play launch, Valve will offer exclusive in-game perks for those who play the new titles this week. Beginning tomorrow with Spiral Knights and continuing until Sunday with Alliance of Valiant Arms, gamers who play the daily featured title will be able to pick up the perks.
Valve said it would offer more information on the exclusive in-game items in the coming days. For more on Steam's new games, check out the new free-to-play landing page at the service's website.
While Nintendo is shifting its online marketplace updates from Monday to Thursday, Microsoft is sticking by its standard Tuesday/Wednesday update schedule. Today, the tech giant tech giant revealed the week's release schedule for Xbox Live Arcade and Games on Demand.
Debuting tomorrow on XBLA will be two new titles, the first of which is Magic: The Gathering Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 (800 MS points, or $10). The game follows 2009's well-received original Duels of the Planeswalkers and again tasks players with using their cards to defeat opponents and bosses. The game also sports a new Archenemy multiplayer mode, where players can team with up to three others to take on AI opponents.
Also launching tomorrow on XBLA will be The Adventures of Shuggy (800 MS points, or $10). A 2D puzzle platformer, the game casts players as Shuggy, a purple vampire. Gamers can work through the title's 116 single-player levels by themselves or team up with a buddy over Xbox Live or on the same console to take on 36 cooperative levels.
Switching to the Games on Demand hub, Microsoft added three new games to the download spot today, the first of which is Konami's FIFA competitor Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 ($30). Also now live in the virtual marketplace is Electronic Arts' Monopoly Streets ($30) and Hasbro Family Game Night 3 ($30).
Bungie has been tight-lipped about its 10-year collaboration with Activision, but teases have been in abundant supply. One bit of gristle gamers have been given to chew is the name Bungie Aerospace, a corporation set up by Bungie president Harold Ryan that trademarked the name "Crimson" with the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Now, one more tease has been added to the mix. In an update to its official website today, Bungie said that it would be pulling back the curtain on Bungie Aerospace, "in explicit detail," as part of its 20th anniversary celebration. Bungie did not provide a specific date for when the reveal would come, saying only that the festivities will commence on June 23 and run through Bungie Day on July 7.
Whether or not Bungie Aerospace has any bearing on Bungie's new project remains to be seen, as little is known about that project. The Washington-based studio has previously said that the game is in development for an all-new game engine for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. Bungie has also indicated that it will be of the massively multiplayer sort, issuing a call for "hundreds of thousands" of beta testers last November.
Of course, Bungie has given gamers a number of trails to follow. Last month, the studio was linked to a dummy corporation, called Podophobia Entertainment, which had trademarked the name "Destiny." A triangular symbol (pictured) was also attached to this filing.
Time bills itself as "the world's most influential magazine," with a publishing history stretching back 88 years. Now the news weekly is lending that influence--in the form of its iconic logo and red cover border--to Activision to help promote Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.
According to a New York Times report, Activision and Time have paired to bring gamers a fake magazine cover that will be used as promotional material and as a preorder incentive for Modern Warfare 3 at GameStop locations nationwide. According to the Times, this is the first time Time has allowed its image to be used for a commercial product.
As for the faux magazine cover, it was created by Activision and features an image of a battered Wall Street, complete with a fake headline that reads "World Stands on the Brink" and a deck head that states "Tensions Rise Across Europe." These headlines fall in line with what is expected of the game, as the title will feature battles across the globe in places like the United States, Germany, France, and England.
According to Time's publisher, Kim Kelleher, the decision to let Activision use its image was made to tap into a demographic the magazine has struggled to connect with.
"This is where the boys are," Kelleher said. "This is a great way to connect with millions of people we might not have otherwise connected with. I like the concept of Time being a related brand of something that's happening in 2030," she added. "That makes me happy."
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games' follow-up to Treyarch's blockbuster hit Call of Duty: Black Ops. It is due out for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC (Wii and DS versions have not been announced) on November 8. For more on the title, check out GameSpot's most recent preview of the game.
Gamers eager to get their hands on new downloadable Nintendo wares this morning were left empty handed but not because of the security issue that hit Nintendo Europe. The Japanese game giant today announced its plan to shift its downloadable store updates from Monday morning to Thursdays going forward.
The weekly update will include information about new additions to Nintendo's download hubs: WiiWare, DSiWare, the Virtual Console, and the recently launched eShop, which opened on June 6.
The most recent Nintendo Store Update arrived last Monday and brought puzzle game Ubongo to WiiWare and Go Series Picdun, Dreamwalker, and Cypronia's Crazy Cheebo: Puzzle Party to DSiWare. There were no Wii Virtual Console additions last week.
LOS ANGELES--Ubisoft has had no shortage of things to say about its popular Assassin's Creed franchise at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo. In addition to closing out its media briefing on Monday with additional details on this year's Revelations, the publisher offered first word on its new Assassin's Creed project for Nintendo's upcoming Wii U console.
Today, Ubisoft returned with preorder information on Assassin's Creed: Revelations, which is due for release on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on November 15. Those who purchase Revelations in advance at GameStop for the Xbox 360 or PS3 will automatically receive a free upgrade for the game's Signature Edition, granting them a bevy of in-game and bonus content.
Specifically, the Signature Edition includes an extra single-player gameplay mission, as well as an exclusive multiplayer character and weapon capacity upgrades. Assassin's Creed: Revelations' special edition also features multimedia perks, coming as it does with an animated short film and an original soundtrack.
For those who would rather buy their games in advance at Best Buy, Assassin's Creed: Revelations will include an exclusive multiplayer character.
Ubisoft also announced today that it has released a range of new Xbox 360 Avatar items based on Assassin's Creed: Revelations. Earlier this week, the publisher released an Xbox Avatar collection celebrating the company's 25th anniversary. The limited-run collection expires on June 21.
LOS ANGELES--Capcom has had a relatively muted presence at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, but it isn't outright absent. As part of this year's show, the publisher confirmed reports from earlier this year that it would collaborating with Sony Pictures' Screen Gems label on a live-action film adaptation for its Devil May Cry franchise.
According to this week's announcement, the film will be based on the new Devil May Cry. A reboot for the franchise, DMC is in development at Heavenly Sword studio Ninja Theory, and it is being positioned as an origin story for protagonist, Dante. DMC is in development for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, but Capcom has yet to offer a release window for the project.
As previously reported, the Devil May Cry film is being written by Kyle Ward, who has also done screenplays for Eidos' upcoming films Hitman 2 and Kane and Lynch.
Along with today's announcement, Capcom offered a sales update for the Devil May Cry franchise, saying the series has now sold more than 10 million units worldwide. The original installment was released in 2001 for the PlayStation 2. It was followed by Devil May Cry 2 in 2003, Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening in 2005, and Devil May Cry 4 in 2008.
For more on the most recent installment in the series, check out DMC's E3 2011 trailer below.
LOS ANGELES--Fans of Microsoft's Forza racing series learned a bit of good news this morning, when the game giant nailed down an October 11 release date for Forza 4. The game will support Kinect, but gamers looking for a different control style will be able to play with a new peripheral.
Microsoft today announced the Xbox 360 Wireless Speed Wheel. The $60 controller (pictured at right) will ship to retailers in September and will be available for purchase in early October. The controller is wireless and offers "precise steering, standard controller buttons/triggers, and haptic feedback with rumble."
The controller's trigger buttons offer players control of the gas and brakes, as well as other game-specific features. Additionally, the new peripheral also has ABXY and D pad buttons that used for different controls, depending on the game.
The new controller is compatible with all Xbox 360 racing games out of the box. However, Microsoft did offer a caveat, announcing that certain games will sport only "limited functionality" with the controller.
LOS ANGELES--PlayStation Network titles didn't receive much attention at Sony's E3 2011 press conference tonight, perhaps understandably so given the service's recent upheaval. However, the publisher does have new PSN content lined up. Today, Sony announced that Q Games will be returning to its PSN-staple PixelJunk series this summer with PixelJunk SideScroller.
Billed as a "retro side-scrolling shooter," PixelJunk SideScroller has been built in the vein of classic arcade shoot-'em-ups, as players traverse levels while avoiding a spray of bullets. The game will also incorporate a number of elements from the PixelJunk Shooter series, including its hazardous fluid mechanic.
PixelJunk SideScroller will feature a swath of upgrade options for in-game weaponry, in addition to hidden power-ups. Q Games also said that PixelJunk SideScroller will have a number of adjustable difficulty levels, as well as multiplayer action for up to two.
Sony did not offer a price for PixelJunk SideScroller. However, when PixelJunk Shooter 2 arrived to a positive critical reception in March, it carried a sticker price of $10.
LOS ANGELES--Mass Effect 3 fans were given two surprises as part of today's Electronic Entertainment Expo press conference extravaganza. At Microsoft's media briefing, project director Casey Hudson confirmed the rumored Kinect support for the title. Shortly thereafter, EA took the liberty of announcing a March 6 release date for the multiplatform action-oriented role-playing game.
Now, EA has one more minor detail to offer about Mass Effect 3. When the game arrives in March, it will come in both a $60 standard edition and an $80 collector's pack. Titled Mass Effect 3 N7 Collector's Edition, the premium package is available to preorder now for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.
Those who pick up Mass Effect 3's limited-edition SKU will receive a bevy of in-game and tangible perks. Within Mass Effect 3, collector's edition purchasers will gain instant access to the N7 Arsenal Pack, which includes four tactical weapons that are exclusive to the premium package. N7 Collector's Edition buyers will also receive "in-game appearance packs." Promotional art for the package also indicates that gamers will receive an additional downloadable mission and character.
As for out-of-game content, collector's edition purchasers will receive a Mass Effect 3-themed Dark Horse comic book, a hardcover art book, and an N7 patch, as well as an exclusive extended soundtrack and lithograph. Those who buy the downloadable edition of Mass Effect 3's collector's package on the PC will receive all of this content in digital form, save for the N7 patch.
For more information, check out GameSpot's previous coverage of Mass Effect 3.