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Tomb Raider Underworld: Beneath the Ashes Now on LIVE

The first downloadable content pack for Tomb Raider Underworld is not available via Xbox LIVE. Beneath the Ashes has Lara exploring previously-unknown catacombs right beneath her own mansion. Also, expand Lara’s wardrobe with 6 new costumes. Beneath the Ashes retails for 800 Microsoft Points.

Official Release:
Beneath the Ashes is the first of two brand new downloadable levels in the continuing Tomb Raider™ adventures of Lara Croft™ and is priced at 800 Microsoft points®.

Offering a new adventure specifically designed to extend the Tomb Raider: Underworld™ experience, Tomb Raider: Underworld™ – Beneath the Ashes sends Lara back to the remains of Croft Manor where she uncovers a massive series of never-before-seen caverns and age old crypts used by her father to protect and hide a deadly source of power. In addition to an entirely new area to explore, the pack will also contain six new costumes and deliver an additional 125 achievement points.

PAX 2009 – Pre-Registration Begins

The 2009 Penny Arcade Expo will run September 4th through 6th at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center in Seattle, WA. If you are interesting in attending this year, you may want to get your ass to mars over to the official site and pre-resister to help secure your place at the event. Last year, PAX had over 58,000 attendees and this year will most likely see even more.

PAX Official Site

The Announcement:
It’s been over five months since PAX 2008 closed to another record year, and after taking those months to rest and plan for 2009, we’re happy announce pre-registration is officially live. Bigger and better in every way, if you plan on attending please make sure to preregister as soon as possible, because the number of badges available will be limited! See you in 200 days!

Tomb Raider: Underworld Beneath the Ashes DLC Coming in February

You Tomb Raider: Underworld fans out there can rejoice as the Beneath the Ashes DLC pack comes out on February 10th via the Xbox LIVE Marketplace. Featuring not only six new outfits for the iconic hero Lara Croft to wear, the expansion also adds new levels to explore and creatures to fight, right beneath Croft Manor in fact.

Beneath the Ashes Screenshots After the Break!

Official Release:
Eidos Interactive Ltd, creator of some of the world’s leading videogame properties, today announced that Tomb Raider: Underworld™ – Beneath the Ashes, the first of two brand new downloadable levels in the continuing Tomb Raider™ adventures of Lara Croft™ will be available 10th February. The second level, Tomb Raider: Underworld™ – Lara’s Shadow, will follow on 10th March. Containing new gameplay levels and content for Tomb Raider: Underworld™, both packs will be available exclusively on Xbox LIVE® Marketplace for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft®.

Offering a new adventure specifically designed to extend the Tomb Raider: Underworld™ experience, Tomb Raider: Underworld™ – Beneath the Ashes sends Lara back to the remains of Croft Manor where she uncovers a massive series of never-before-seen caverns and age old crypts used to protect and hide a deadly source of power. The pack will also contain six new costumes and deliver an additional 125 achievement points.

Eidos Considering Tomb Raider Redesign

Apparently, Eidos was not impressed with the 1.5 million units of Tomb Raider: Underworld sold in the game’s first weeks out of the gate and will be considering a redesign of not only the character Lara Croft but everything in an attempt to make the game more ‘female-friendly’. The Tomb Raider games are a very long-running franchise, beginning back in 1996, and Eidos has even hired models to portray the character of Lara Croft at conventions and other events.

Via the TimesOnline

8 Ball DLC Pack Out for GRID

The 8 Ball DLC pack is now available for Codemasters’ Race Driver: GRID. The pack adds eight new vehicles to drive as well as two new multiplayer events to race them on. The pack is going for 800 Microsoft Points and will be available today.

Official Release:
Codemasters® today announced the launch of the new downloadable “8 Ball” premium content pack for Race Driver: GRID™, the hit racing game of the summer, for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft® and the PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system. The 8 Ball pack will be available today, Thursday 4th December, from Xbox LIVE® Marketplace (800 Microsoft Points) and from PLAYSTATION®Network (£6.29 / €7.99 / $9.99).

True to the original game’s quality ethos, the 8 Ball pack delivers eight superb high performance new cars to drive in the game’s ‘Race Day’ mode and online races. New featured cars include the McLaren F1 GTR, TVR Cerbera Speed 12, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, Honda S2000, Nissan GT-R (S-G2008), VW Nardo, Pontiac Firebird Trans AM and the Volvo C30 (full details in Notes).

Das Keyboard Professional Review

The origins of the Das Keyboard are surprising, with it actually being developed by Metadot Corp, open-source software developer. Daniel Guermeur, the company’s founder, wanted to better his typing abilities by creating a keyboard with no visible markings on it. This eventually gave rise to the Das Keyboard Ultimate. We got the chance to review the Das Keyboard Professional, which is the same as the Ultimate version, save for the fact it still has letter markings on it.

The Das Keyboard Professional features a sturdy, black plastic body with a sheen reminiscent of Darth Vader’s helmet. Weighing a little over two and half pounds, the heavy keyboard’s innards are also impressive, featuring gold-plated key switches that illicit a very loud ‘click’ with each key press. This gives to the keyboard’s moniker, ‘The keyboard that clicks’. If you require a silent keyboard, this unit will not be what you are looking for. This audible cue hearkens back to the time of early IBM keyboards and ‘typewriters’ (for you youngsters out there, Wikipedia the word). It is a pleasant, not grating, noise which makes for a unique typing experience. The key action is incredible, with a slightly longer slide than you will find on most keyboards. In our review, we spent quite a number of days just typing with it and to this end, we know of no better keyboard. It is an amazing unit for typists and that is really where the Das Keyboard really shines.

There is a USB 2.0 pass-through on the keyboard, which will allow you easy connection to digital cameras and/or joysticks without having to reach behind the PC case, and the keyboard also features some very slick electroluminescent indicators for the scroll, number, and page lock states in the upper right-hand corner of the unit.

That being said, our review would not be complete without telling you fine people how it worked under gaming conditions. The Das Keyboard Professional has a feature called ‘N-key rollover’, which provides anti-ghosting for up to twelve keys at a time. Remember, this keyboard is not designed or marketed as a gaming keyboard but this feature gave us some hope as to its gaming usage. We played ample sessions of both Fallout 3 and Left 4 Dead with the keyboard and were left with a mixed bag. In the slower combat of Fallout 3, the Das Keyboard Professional was a fine performer. In the more frenetic combat of Left 4 Dead, we found the long action of the keys to be somewhat detrimental in that during a flurry of keystrokes, you are actually slowed down a bit in comparison to a shorter-action gaming keyboard. For you moderate gamers out there however, the Das Keyboard Professional will work very well and should tackle most any situation.

The Das Keyboard Professional should be standard-issue for those of you who spend your days typing novels, blogging, drafting TPS reports, or even doing some gaming here and there. If you can shell out the $130 dollars for one, you and your fingers will not be disappointed.

Far Cry 2 Review

Developed by Ubisoft Montreal (Assassin’s Creed), Far Cry 2 is a mixed bag. Far Cry 2 puts players into the heart of an African country at war with itself. Your character has been sent there to assassinate a gun runner supplying to both sides of the conflict in an effort to stabilize the region. Unfortunately, on the way to your hotel, you come down with malaria and get caught up in a firefight. After this brief training mission, you get introduced to the leader of one of the nsides fighting each other and get impressed into service, taking on missions for them. And then Ubisoft Montreal adds the fun.

After the first few missions you run, the game really opens up, giving you free reign to move about as you wish. The African environment is rendered beautifully thanks to Far Cry 2’s Dunia engine. The way the sunlight breaks through trees is a sight to see. Day and night cycles are handled very nicely and the game begins to feel a bit more like an RPG with the vast expanse of land you could potentially wander about.

However, once the lead starts flying, any illusions about the game not being a first-person shooter go out the window. Firefights are intense and, while the enemy AI can be very wonky at times, combat is definitely fun. Weapons all have various levels of repair, the worst often leading to jamming and possibly exploding (not good). Weapons tend to aim very realistically, and generally you will not get good results just spraying and praying from the hip. You really need to aim down the sites of your weapon to achieve good kill shots. You are equipped with five healing syringes in the game, each will fix some of the damage you take in your travels. You can usually find more of these in first-aid kits scattered about.

Even more fun is a clever game gimmick envolving setting fire to the grasslands in order to burn your enemies alive. By using your friendly flame thrower you can not only use the fire as an offensive weapons, but also a defensive device, setting a wall of fire to shield you from oncoming enemies. Of course, you can always light an enemy on fire with it too, but I digress…

Far Cry 2’s landscapes are fairly huge, with tons of broken terrain to navigate. Ubisoft Montreal created a 50km2 area for gamers to play in, and it does feel like you are in the middle of nowhere. Getting from one place to another can take up to ten minutes in some cases. This driving (yes, you can use vehicles in the game) is often interrupted by armed checkpoints and other things to shoot at, but trust us when we say you will have some time to admire the scenery. Ubisoft has put all manner of vehicles into the game, and you can drive most any of them. Should a vehicle become damaged, you can even pull off to the side of the road and make repairs. In jeeps with mounted machine guns, you can toggle which position you want to be in (driver/gunner). This toggle yields a cool animation of you pulling yourself through the roll bars behind the driver seat into the gunner’s position and vice versa.

Far Cry 2 has a unique buddy system in which you make friends with NPCs along the way, which will help you on missions and so forth. If you die in combat, you will see a buddy carry you back to a safe house to heal up. Safe houses are exactly that, safe places you can hold up in when needed.

All is not perfect in Africa, however, with Far Cry 2 suffering from a few issues which can really hamper the fun. First is the spotty AI: I have seen enemies run to flank me and I have also seen them just endlessly run their vehicles into the side of a building. In order to battle your bout of malaria, you need special pills. However, to gain more of these pills, you generally have to do the same mission over and over again for various low-level contacts. Unfortunately, you need the pills to survive so Ubisoft is basically forcing you to play these out. And lastly, we found issue with the respawning of enemies at locations around the map. We took delicate time to plan our attack on an enemy factory, executed it perfectly and left for five minutes to another location. We came back and everyone had respawned. While we imagine an enemy organization would restaff a location eventually, to do so that quickly is just unrealistic and takes away from the fun of having decimated your opponents. We would have liked to see enemy forces stumble upon the destruction and trickle in to re-position at these posts instead.

Aside from these issues, we hold that Far Cry 2 is a very solid shooter and well worth the purchase for anyone looking for such a title. Do not expect this to be Far Cry, there are no feral traits or sci-fi anything, this is a whole new animal. Ubisoft Montreal is to be commended on their fine work.

X3: Terran Conflict Review

The ‘X’ series of space sims have always been known for their open-universe gameplay and freedom of choice. X3: Terran Conflict upholds this tradition along with bringing the story began ten years ago, in X: Beyond the Frontier, to a close.

For newcomers, you should expect to scratch your heads for many hours while attempting to suss out what to do next. Don’t fear, this is a perfectly normal effect of jumping into an ‘X’ game. The effect will pass in time as you realize that the whole universe is your oyster. You can do just about anything you like within the realm of the game, whether it is to work as a trader, mercenary, or pirate (and a whole lot more). You can even build up a fleet of your own to perform duties while you are away. The game even allows you to build your own business empire by owning factories, stations, etc. The depth in X3: Terran Conflict is so vast, I doubt anyone could do everything the game has to offer. So explore why don’t you!?! Just remember to save often.

For you veterans to the series that have played X3: Reunion, feel happy, as you are in for a treat. Egosoft has enhanced Terran Conflict from its recent predecessor in many fruitful ways. For instance, graphically, the game looks even better than Reunion (and that is saying something). Space is so vast, the word ‘vast’ really can’t do it justice. This feeling of hugeality (my word) is properly infused within the game. No matter how powerful you become, how rich, or how many ships you acquire, you are still just one person in a very humbling universe. Your starship’s user interface, while still full of complex options, has been refined as has controlling your space craft with your mouse (although I highly recommend a flight stick for the ‘full effect’). Navigating the menus is easily done, but make sure you are out of harms way before exploring them, it would be a shame for some pirates to get the drop on you! Based on the new features, it is quite clear that Egosoft has listened to the fans and has brought out a very complete product.

One thing that has bugged me since X3: Reunion, however, is the lack of a cockpit view. In the original X: Beyond the Frontier, your viewpoint was from within a 3d cockpit view as was it in X2: The Threat. In the third game of the series, Egosoft removed the cockpit and provided a view more reminiscent of Freespace 2 (one of the greatest space-combat games of all time, btw). This is, obviously, more a personal preference and I just like to see the ship around me. In its defense, the view does work well and gives you more of an unobstructed view than a cockpit would.

Combat still feels realistic (well, as realistic as I think space-combat should be), even without true Newtonian movement. You can purchase and equip a variety of weapons, from energy-based blasters to torpedoes and cannons. Same goes for ship/station components: there is just a gigantic variety of everything for everything. This hearkens back to the game’s magnificent scope and continues to show their desire to create a truly immersive universe for the player to exist within.

In our interview with Egosoft Founder Bernd Lehahn, he mentioned that his biggest regret with the ‘X’ series was that they were forced to release X3: Reunion early, and in a more unpolished state than he would have liked it to be in. I can safely say that X3: Terran Conflict has not suffered such a fate and will be enjoyable by long-time fans of the series as well as fans of games such as Independence War, Privateer, and Starlancer. X3: Terran Conflict has something in it for everyone. Unfortunately, big-production space sims are few and far between these days and it is very important to support quality work like this.

Confused about our rating system? See here, citizen!

Silent Hill Homecoming Intro Movie

The nice folks at Konami have a new video for us from their recently-released Silent Hill Homecoming. This is the intro movie for the survival-horror title. Enjoy…If you dare, muhahaha…Sorry.

Interplay Opens New Website and Adds Chris Taylor to Design Team

Interplay, a legendary game company which was defunct for quite some time, has apparently re-staffed and launched a new website. Chris Taylor, who was one of the designers on games like Fallout and its sequel (just to name a couple), has been signed on to the new development team. They also tease a ‘Project V13’ which is the code name for an upcoming MMO they are working on. Could this be the Fallout MMO? We thought would have fallen in the hands of Zenimax.

Interplay Website

Official Release:

Interplay Entertainment Corp. (OTC BB:IPLY) announced today the launch of an all-new web site at

The site, developed over the last several months, is designed to improve the company’s communication with customers, investors, and partners.  The new site includes forums based on past and future Interplay games, a customer support section, detailed information on the company and its products, and much more.

The company also announced that Chris Taylor, a game designer who was a part of the original Fallout game development team at Interplay in 1994, has rejoined the company. Taylor will serve as Lead System Designer for “Project V13,” the working title of Interplay’s next generation Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMO) currently in development. Taylor joins other original Fallout team members on staff at Interplay’s internal game studio, which recently opened an office in Irvine, Calif. Additional development staff members continue to be hired as the project ramps-up.