Author - Jerry Paxton

STALKER Clear Sky North American Release

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky will be officially released in North America on August 29th, 2008. If you haven’t had the opportunity to play the original game, I highly recommend it. It is a very cool first-person shooter with plenty of action, open-ended adventure, and chills to go around.

You can find the official game website here.

Official Release:
Deep Silver, Inc, a publisher of interactive entertainment for PC and consoles, today announced they will publish the highly anticipated PC title S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky in North America. The game is expected to be available worldwide on August 29, 2008 and is developed by GSC Game World, a leading computer games developer.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky is a survival FPS game for PC based on a ‘what-if’ scenario of the second Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant accident. The game is created as a warning to mankind against mindless play with technologies. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky is the official prequel to the renowned S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game by the Ukraine-based GSC Game World studio. The game is set in 2011and brings forth the events to have preceded the third campaign of Strelok to the Zone center. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky introduces an alternative look onto the events of the original game and offers the player to try himself out as a mercenary s.t.a.l.k.e.r. in search of his own path in the world of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

Overclocked: A History of Violence Demo

The demo for Overclocked A History of Violence has been released from Lighthouse Interactive and dtp Entertainment today. We reviewed the game here and thought it was a very goof adventure game – definitely worth checking out.

You can find the demo as well as game info here.

Official Release:
Lighthouse Interactive and dtp Entertainment today released a compelling playable demo for the psychological thriller adventure game, Overclocked: A History of Violence. Created by award-winning developer, House of Tales Entertainment, players will delve into the world of Overclocked to explore the deranged minds of three of the five patients admitted to the Staten Island Forensic Hospital. This highly anticipated adventure game on PC DVD-ROM was released in the UK on May 2 and is available in stores now.

Overclocked explores violence, an archetypical, yet actual condition of mankind. Players will become engrossed in a world where memories and illusions; dreams and reality; perpetrators and victims… collide. Overclocked: A History of Violence is Windows® Vista™ compatible.

Prototype Pushed Back Until 2009

Unless this is a VERY early April Fool’s joke for next year, the shape-shifting, third-person action game Prototype has been pushed back until April 1st, 2009. This, according to IGN as well as the Gamestop website. Prototype is being developed for the PC, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3 platforms.

A Sierra spokesperson had this to say:
‘Since its announcement, Prototype has been regarded by many as groundbreaking and taking the open-world genre in new directions, and in the simplest explanation possible, we need more time to deliver the game the team initially set out to create.’

That kind of proactive policing on the part of a video game publisher and developer is refreshing and welcome in an industry where more often than not, games are rushed out the door unfinished.

Iron Man Sequel Greenlit for 2010

Grossing over $100 million in its first weekend, Marvel has already greenlit a sequel to Iron Man due in 2010. Also coming shortly after the sequel’s release in 2010 is a movie adaptation of Thor.

From the article:
Marvel plans to launch its 2010 film slate with the release of the sequel, Iron Man 2, on April 30, 2010, followed by the launch of Thor on June 4, 2010. Additionally, Marvel is planting its feature film stakes for summer 2011 with an Avengers-themed summer – a two-picture project which will debut on May 6, 2011 with The First Avenger: Captain America (working title), followed by The Avengers in July 2011.

Via Yahoo Finance

Sudden Strike III: Arms for Victory Review

The Sudden Strike games are definitely unique amongst real-time strategy games. With an emphasis on throwing your troops towards the enemy lines and a lack of resource gathering, they fill a unique void in the genre. Fireglow’s latest in the series, Sudden Strike III: Arms for Victory, is no exception. If you think you have seen huge battles in an RTS game before, prepare yourself as you haven’t seen anything yet…

It seems as though that thing Fireglow has attempted to really capture and focus on in this title are epic-sized battles. Even the view is farther away from your units than in most RTS games. It appears as though you are looking down on the battlefield from an observation balloon for most of the time. Missions can last anywhere from thirty minutes to a couple hours if you really take your time.

This is very different from most RTS games which try to focus on quick missions and giving the player the ability to zoom in nice and tight on individual units. In SSIII, the focus is on battalion-level and above control. What this means is that you generally have to click and drag around a bunch of units at a time and issue them orders as selecting individual units is a bit clunky in the midst of all the chaos going on around them. Unlike its predecessors, however, where you essentially had to ‘throw’ hordes of your units against the enemy and hope they can pull it off, this sequel requires alot more attention to strategy to accomplish mission goals.

Unfortunately, all of this epic-scale can work against the game at times. Things get extremely chaotic trying to manage troops in multiple areas of the gigantic maps on which they fight. Units can be set to act aggressively, cautiously, or defensively which does help somewhat, but we were often left with a sense of feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information we were keeping track of. Additionally, unit path-finding definitely needs some work as if you do not group and direct them carefully, they can end up getting lost fast. That, or some of your units will just take the long way while others arrive early and without the support of their lost brethren.

This does not mean the game is bad, not at all, just that enhancing the controls/interface somehow to allow smoother control of units across the field of battle would be welcome. In fact, when everything comes together the game is a lot of fun with tons of stuff going on at once. At its best it appears you are watching an actual historic battle unfold from your perch on high. Additionally, terrain now plays an important role in combat, giving modifiers to your unit’s attack and defense depending on factors such as cover and elevation.

Graphically speaking, this is the best looking Sudden Strike game to date, with crisp units, terrain, and effects thanks to the new Next7 graphics engine. The score is average, with the standard WWII game fare but it does the job.

Conclusion: While Sudden Strike III has its issues, the game is easily the best of the series thus far and shouldn’t be missed by fans of the franchise or large-scale RTS games in general. It may, however, be a bit overwhelming for new gamers.

Microsoft Withdraws Yahoo Bid

According to CNN Money, Microsoft has officially withdrawn its bid to buy Yahoo today. Microsoft had apparently increased their buyout offer to $33 dollars a share, which is roughly 70% above its original offer despite declining stock prices of both Microsoft and Yahoo.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had this to say:
‘After careful consideration, we believe the economics demanded by Yahoo do not make sense for us…’

E3 Media and Business Summit Dead – Hogwash

The E3 Media & Business Summit of 2007 was somewhat of a bust and a let-down. After it changed from the previous media spectacle to its current, more intimate event, the magic just seemed to be lacking.

Now, with the news of Vivendi Universal and Activision (as well as some others) not attending this year’s E3 Media & Business Summit (and subsequently leaving the ESA), many gamers and forum trolls are raising the red flag of ‘E3 is dead!’ and all that nonsense. While the full list of companies at E3 has yet to be announced ‘officially’, so far it looks like these companies will be attending:

* Akella
* Atari Inc.
* Bethesda Softworks
* CAPCOM Entertainment, Inc.
* Codemasters
* Crave Entertainment
* Disney Interactive Studios
* Eidos, Inc.
* Electronic Arts
* Konami Digital Entertainment America
* LucasArts
* Microsoft Corporation
* Midway Games, Inc.
* MTV Games
* NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc.
* Nintendo of America Inc.
* Rebellion
* SEGA of America
* Sony Computer Entertainment America, Inc.
   * Sony Online Entertainment Inc.
* Square Enix Inc.
* Take-Two Interactive
* THQ, Inc.
* Ubisoft Entertainment Inc.
* Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment

-The list has been updated with the recent announcement by ID Software, Her Entertainment, and NC Soft.

Sure, losing the six companies is a hit to the line up at the summit, but with all of the other talented developers appearing this year, I would hardly call the expo ‘dead’. It is true that there are fewer developers on the list for this year’s event when compared to year’s past, but there is also no word on how much floorspace the ESA has rented at the convention center. Additionally, there is still plenty of time to register and set up a booth, so that list could grow.

Pulling the expo back from its 60,000+ attendance circus to a more intimate event was an attempt to re-focus on the games, not who’s booth was bigger and better and I would rather a company spend some of that booth budget on additional development assets than waste it on some booth-babes. Now while this may seem like a moot point being that this particular change occurred last year, many posters are still citing it as one of the reasons ‘E3 is dead!’.

By losing a few of the top-tier, huge developers from the line-up, it might allow smaller, independent studios an ‘in’ to showcase what they are working on, something that was very difficult to do in the event’s previous incarnation.

While these changes are painful, they will pay off in a much more focused event where gaming media can get the information they need to the public who craves it. Everything fluctuates, and this is just another rebuilding year for the E3 expo. Things will improve and there is no reason for all the gloom and doom talk, people!

Vivendi Universal and Activision Break From the ESA

For those of you hoping to see the latest from Vivendi Universal and Activision at this year’s E3 expo, you will be seeing nothing as they have not only bowed out of that event but also have officially left the Entertainment Software Association altogether.

Official ESA Statement:
While the Entertainment Software Association remains the preeminent voice for U.S. computer and video game publishers, we can confirm that Activision and Vivendi Games opted to discontinue their membership. The ESA remains dedicated to advancing our industry?s objectives such as protecting intellectual property, preserving First Amendment rights, and fostering a beneficial environment for the entire industry. Our high level of service and value to members and the larger industry remains unchanged.’

— Rich Taylor, Senior Vice President of Communications and Research, Entertainment Software Association