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Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 gets microtransactions in the form of cosmetic changes

Activision has finally jumped on the microtransactions train by way of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. Call of Duty games have traditionally earned money after launch by selling DLC content packs, normally consisting of new multiplayer and new Zombie maps. Black Ops 2 broke away from this by offering the Peacekeeper SMG in the first DLC pack.


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Starting Wednesday, Black Ops 2 players on the Xbox 360 console will be able to change cosmetic features of their gaming experience. By purchasing "Personalization Paks" for 160 Microsoft Points, players will be able to change the look of their guns and gain access to new "Calling Cards."


Also available are World Calling Card Packs, $1, and Extra Slot Packs, $2. For the time being, Activision will likely stay with cosmetic microtransactions only. If they were to introduce microtransactions that changed the way multiplayer worked, Digital Trends notes that they would likely have player riots.

God of War: Ascension released in North America today, "substantial" DLC plan confirmed

After two and a half years the next installment in the PlayStation game series God of War has finally arrived. God of War: Ascension was released this morning in North America and is expected to be a major hit for developer Santa Monica Studio.


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In a statement the developers said:


"We wanted to create the best looking, best playing, most compelling entry in the series to date, a game that took every aspect of the experience to a new level, that sought to show long-time fans a different side of the iconic Kratos character, and that added something entirely new yet addictively deep to the franchise: multiplayer, which many of you joined us in playing and improving during our Beta weeks ago.



God of War: Ascension includes all new multiplayer modes, co-op "Trial of the Gods" mode and much more. The developers also officially announced a "substantial" DLC plan that will bring forth new weapons, armor, as well as stages to battle in. Owners of God of War: Ascension Collector's Edition will receive all of the DLC for free.

Maker extraordinaire Ben Heck squeezes PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii U into a single device

Ben Heck of Xbox 360 Laptop, 3D Printing, and other Maker fame has just released the latest installment of his popular web show. Normally I would not consider this news, but the topic of this week's Ben Heck Show was just too cool to not cover.


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This week's episode is part 1 of a 3 part series in which Ben manages to stuff a PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and a Wii U into a beautiful yet small laser cut enclosure. He is calling the creation the "Ultimate Combo Gaming System". In this first installment, we see a mild mannered Ben Heck tear everything apart in preparation for the build.


The mashup of gaming consoles should give everyone some ideas on what to do with their current consoles to make room for the next-gen devices coming out later this year.

Continue reading 'Maker extraordinaire Ben Heck squeezes PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii U into a single device' (full post)

Xi3 puts Piston on pre-order, first of the Steam Boxes will set you back $999.99

Xi3 has beaten everyone else to the punch by releasing the Piston for pre-order. This pint-sized gaming PC doesn't have the highest of performance parts; it features a quad-core AMD R464 processor and integrated graphics coupled with 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. Larger SSDs are available for a price.


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Upgrading to a 512GB SSD brings the price of the machine up by $750, a bit steep when you consider what SSDs are available for on Newegg. It's possible that Steam and Xi3 are pulling a Google in that they are releasing the very high-end systems before showing off more value-based propositions.


If you're interested in buying the Piston, Xi3 is offering a $100 discount for pre-orders that are placed before March 17. One of the few things this Steam Box has going for it is its small size and upgradability. But, are those enough to set this apart from the next generation PlayStation or Xbox? We'll have to wait and see.

Upset that you can't play Donkey Kong as a girl? Now you can!

When your daughter approaches you and asks to play Donkey Kong as a female, what do you do? If you're Mike Mika, you hack the ROM so that your wonderful daughter can play as a princess and save Mario for a change.



"Now I'm up at midnight hacking the ROM, replacing Mario with Pauline," Mika writes. "I'm using the 2010 NES Donkey Kong ROM. I've redrawn Mario's frames and I swapped the palettes in the ROM. I replaced the M at the top with a P for Pauline."


Mika has even gone so far as to release the ROM to the public so that all the little girls in the world are able to play as Mario's girlfriend Pauline. You can download the ROM from CodeMystics' website.

Continue reading 'Upset that you can't play Donkey Kong as a girl? Now you can!' (full post)

EA issues statement that SimCity servers close to fixed, not quite in the clear yet

Lucy Bradshaw, General Manager of Maxis, posted on EA's website saying that the problems with the SimCity servers are almost resolved. However, she added that she couldn't give the all-clear signal quite yet. "I'm happy to report that the core problem with getting in and having a great SimCity experience is almost behind us."


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I had hoped to issue an "All-Clear" tonight, but there are still some elements coming together. Tonight and tomorrow we'll be monitoring each server and gameplay metrics to ensure that the service remains strong and game is playing great. We need a few more days of data before we can assure you that the problem is completely solved and the game is running at 100 percent.


The blog post details that players have already been able to log nearly 8 million hours of gameplay time. This has been the result of optimizing server architecture and response times on new and existing servers. Game crashes have reportedly been decreased by 92 percent since the launch last Tuesday.


We'll be sure to bring you news when EA announces that all problems are resolved. In the meantime, you can check out all of our coverage of SimCity by clicking here.

Tomb Raider updated to fix issues with NVIDIA GPUs

Steam posted an announcement that Tomb Raider has been updated. While the update should be automatically applied when the game is next started, you may have to restart the Steam client. This update brings with it fixes for some of the problems that were discovered shortly before launch and immediately after.


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This means that users with NVIDIA cards should have fewer issues relating to the game. NVIDIA was forced to make a statement last week after many users experienced less-than-optimal gameplay. The update includes the following fixes:


- Addressed some stability and startup issues on machines that have both Intel and NVIDIA graphics hardware.

- Fix for players being unable to progress related to the boat in the beach area.

- Some fixes for crashes on startup and when selecting Options.

- Some small improvements to TressFX hair rendering.

- Fixes for various graphics glitches, including certain effects not being visible in fullscreen mode.

- Fixed a problem that caused some users to not be able to use exclusive fullscreen.

- Added support for separate mouse/gamepad inversion for aiming, as well as support for x-axis inversion.

- Fixes related to the benchmark scene and benchmark mode.

- Various other small fixes.


In interesting move, a "beta" version has been released on steam that carries the build number 716.5.

Continue reading 'Tomb Raider updated to fix issues with NVIDIA GPUs' (full post)

PlayStation 4 will have support for NVIDIA's PhysX

AMD might have won the contract for the hardware inside of Sony's PlayStation 4, but NVIDIA's PhysX and APEX technologies will be supported on the PS4. NVIDIA have announced their support for the PS4, introducing new PhysX and APEX SDKs for developers.


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These technologies allow developers to provide dynamic physics to environments, particles, and objects, delivering more life-like destruction, character models, and effects that react in real-time to player interaction and in-game action.

Xi3 to launch their Steam Box-like Piston PC this holiday season, starts from $1000

The current unofficial Steam Box is launching this holiday season for a starting price of $1000. Xi3's Piston will begin pre-orders of the PC on March 18, with pre-order customers receiving a nice $100 discount off the system.


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Xi3's Piston is the first PC designed specifically to run games through Steam's Big Picture Mode, with Valve helping finance the system. This is completely different to the Steam Box, which is coming later this year according to Valve hero Gabe Newell. Xi3 CEO, Jason Sullivan, said in a press release:


Clearly, the computer/video gaming market is huge, both in the personal computer and traditional console markets. That being said, we believe there is a crying need for a machine that captures the best of both worlds, with the upgradeability of computer gaming rigs and the design and form factor of consoles. We believe our Piston Consoles do exactly that-deliver the beauty and small size of consoles with the upgradeability of computers.

SimCity won't be going offline as Maxis have 'no intentions' of doing so

Even with SimCity being the most failed launch of recent times, developer Maxis won't be taking the game offline, but they'll be look into it as a way of "earning back [buyers'] trust efforts". This is all from a tweet from the game's official Twitter account. Earlier today, General Manager of Maxis, Lucy Bradshaw began answering questions through Twitter. She was asked about an offline mode patch in the future, if the servers were to go offline, even for years at a time, Bradshaw responded:


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Bradshaw talked about the offline mode, adding "It wouldn't be possible to make the game offline without a significant amount of engineering work by our team."


I really hope we see a change in games now, offering a playable game without Internet access. I think in this day and age, while I'm always connected to the Internet, I like the ability to play a game like SimCity offline. Especially when travelling, etc. Maxis have put a city-sized foot in their mouth with the launch of SimCity.

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