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Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

5 Pulses

Update On Children Of Neinzul Donations For Child's Play

<a href="http://www.arcengames.com/aiwar_features.php"/><img src="http://arcengames.com/img/side_aiwar.png"</img></a> <i>AI War <a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/AI-War-Fleet-Command/143457342376">Facebook page</a> Arcen Games' <a href="http://www.facebook.com/arcengames">Facebook page</a> Tidalis <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Tidalis">Facebook page</a> Our <a href="http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php">community forums</a></i> Report bugs and suggestions: <a href="http://www.arcengames.com/mantisbt/">MantisBT</a> The <a href="irc://irc.rtsnet.org/aiwar">AI War IRC</a> / <a href="http://www.arcengames.com/aiwar_irc.php">AI War web IRC</a> <b><a href="http://arcengames.blogspot.com/2010/12/update-on-children-of-neinzul-donations_30.html">Please see the original post here</a></b> As of December 30th, 2010, we have so far raised and donated $10,529.71! We didn't quite hit our goal for the year, but we did raise a substantial amount of money -- and also, bear in mind that a lot of the money generated in 2010 is actually paid on "net 30" or "net 60" terms to us, meaning that money generated in 2010 will still be arriving as late as February 2011. Given that foreknowledge, it looks like we will be very close to our goal by the end of January or February. We'll keep posting monthly updates on how the donations are doing, so check back even in 2011! <img src="http://www.arcengames.com/img/ChildsPlay.png"</img> <b>More About AI War: Children of Neinzul and Child's Play</b> When you purchase AI War: Children Of Neinzul, you're not only getting an exciting new expansion, you're also supporting an important cause. Arcen Games has partnered with the <a href="http://www.childsplaycharity.org/">Child's Play</a> charity, pledging 100% of the profits from sale of Children of Neinzul (excepting any taxes and distributor fees) to helping sick kids in need. The staff at Arcen has long admired the work done by Child's Play, and we're very excited to finally be able to contribute in a substantial manner. Our goal was to raise $14,000.00 USD for Child's Play in 2010, but even after 2010 all of the proceeds from this micro-expansion will continue to be donated to the charity. At the moment, this micro-expansion is available directly through the <a href="http://www.arcengames.com/store.php">Arcen Online Store</a> ($3.99 USD), as well as through Steam, Impulse, and GamersGate.
2 minutes and 8 seconds

What Shogun II can learn from the original Shogun: Total War

<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/2011/01/02/what-shogun-ii-can-learn-from-the-original-shogun-total-war/" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent Link to What Shogun II can learn from the original Shogun: Total War"><img width="590" height="312" src="http://media.pcgamer.com/files/2011/01/shogun01-590x312.jpg" class="attachment-590x500 wp-post-image" alt="" title="shogun01" /></a> <br /> At 9.40 this morning, one of my geisha entered the quarters of rebel general Homma Katsunaga. By 9.43 Katsunaga was hanging from a rafter by a lute string, and I was one mouse-click away from ruling all sixty provinces of Sengoku-era Japan. A fun festive season of Samurai slaughter was drawing to a close, leaving me one satisfied, surprised and slightly fearful gamer.<br /> <br /> Fearful? After a couple of happy weeks with the TBS/RTS hybrid that catapulted Creative Assembly into the big time, the idea of a sequel seems both splendid and scary. There's no question that Total War: Shogun 2 will be prettier than its progenitor, and offer far more extensive multiplay options. What remains to be seen is whether ten years of Total War feature-creep will end-up enhancing Shogun's single-player side or suffocating it.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> It's easy to forget just how sylph-like Shogun was in comparison to the games that it sired. There's no naval dimension, no research, no retinues, no missions, no artillery, and no history-twisting super-units (though Korean grenadiers arrived promptly via the add-on). What's remarkable is that you're unlikely to find yourself yearning for any of these omissions while playing. Their absence may actually make for a more focussed, fluid and enjoyable campaign experience.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> Shogun's strategic AI certainly has characteristics I'm hoping to see in the sequel. Though reluctant to strike the first blow and slow to band together against mutual threats, computer-controlled factions are pleasingly plausible once riled. Often a rival daimyo will vacate a province rather than attempt to hold it with an understrength army. When they do finally come, invasion forces tend to be large and multifarious. There's none of that fending off mosquito-sized raiding parties for turn after tiresome turn.<br /> <br /> My positive memories of Shogun's battlefield AI were, I now realise, a tad rose-tinted, but even in this area, I think the old soldier has something worth passing on to its handsome replacement. As in later instalments there are times when opposing armies seem utterly clueless. You'll witness foes dithering under missile fire, squandering their leaders, and spectacularly failing to exploit topography. What they are however are unpredictable in their ineptitude. At times they come like lambs to the slaughter and at others stubbornly refuse to leave the heights or woodland they've chosen (?) to occupy. Morale feels more fragile, complacency more dangerous on a Shogun killing field.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> The rather clumsy reinforcement mechanism keeps you on your toes too. Several times during the last fortnight I've been waiting for a hard-won victory screen to display, when suddenly another batch of enemies has appeared from nowhere and the desperate struggle has begun anew. By the time the real final curtain falls battlefields are often amazingly corpsey. There's an epic feel to some of the engagements that you just don't find in the more recent TWs.<br /> <br /> Of course the less said about the awful castle assaults the better. If you choose to storm a citadel rather than starve the defenders out over the course of several turns (one turn = one season) then usually you'll find yourself facing a garrison whose idea of defence is to stand patiently in an open gateway awaiting death-by-arrow-shower. Battles for fortifications may have been weak in Empire but they were infinitely superior to the pointless pantomimes in Shogun.<br /> <br /> Retreat code is another shortcoming that nostalgia may have scrubbed from your memory. In their eagerness to leave the field routing troops will happily elbow their way through packs of katana-wielding opponents. It's beyond silly.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> Aspects of Shogun's AI might not have stood the test of time, but its theme shines as brightly now as it ever did. Picking up the game ten years on, the world of samurai and shinobi, ashigaru and arquesbusiers, daimyo and dojos still feels fantastically fresh and alluring. Hardly surprising when, with the odd exception, so few games have explored it since. While in later TWs there's sometimes the feeling that the setting is chafing with the mechanics, in Shogun the marriage is almost Zen-like in its perfection. From the self-contained sea-hemmed map, to the obliging history with its warring clans and dash of gunpowder and Christianity, everything seems tailor-made to suit a game that blends turn-based empire building with real-time battles. It's hard to imagine CA ever finding a more natural fit for their approach.<br /> <br /> Another advantage of the feudal Japanese setting is most of us know sod-all about it. I pray Creative Assembly never get round to that WW2 or WW1 game they've hinted at. If they do they're going to be crucified for every underarmoured Panzer and overstrength Balkan state. In the perverse world of historical strategy the more your fans know about your chosen theme the more grief you get over historical gaffs and design compromises.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> Part-and-parcel of the pleasure of a recent Total War title is dropping the camera into the midst of a skirmish to savour every stunning uniform and savage sabre slash. Such close-quarters ogling is impossible in the crude spritey world of Shogun, but the game does a fine job of communicating theme and flavour through other devices. I'd forgotten just how ace the agent vids were for example. Watching ninjas skewer and slice there way through sleeping encampments and paper-walled palaces, is a delight. The menu screen with its silhouetted soldiery, flapping battle standards, and distant strongholds is similarly splendid. And then there's Jeff van Dyck's wonderful music. After a few days' play it's impossible to look at a Shogun screenshot without hearing thunderous drums, trilling flutes and clashing cymbals sounding in the distance. He might not have had a full Taiko ensemble at his disposal back in 1999, but it hardly seemed to matter.<br /> <br /> So, Shogun: a tough act to follow, but not so flawless the idea of a remake is appalling. If the lads and lasses from Sussex can just hone that AI and resist the sort of showy embellishments that confuse combat and bog-down decision-making, they are surely onto a winner. Let's hope they've been reading their Basho:<br /> Do not forget the plum,<br /> blooming<br /> in the thicket.
5 minutes and 43 seconds

Any Dead Space Gamesave Gives You OG Plasma Cutter in Dead Space 2

<p><a rel="lytebox" href="http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/9/2011/01/deadspaceplasma-transf.jpg"><img src="http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/9/2011/01/340x_deadspaceplasma-transf.jpg" width="340" class="left image340" alt="Any Dead Space Gamesave Gives You OG Plasma Cutter in Dead Space 2" /></a>Whether or not you've completed the original Dead Space, if you have any game save file from it on your hard drive, you'll get Isaac's original plasma cutter free for use in Dead Space 2, which arrives Jan. 25.</p> <p>Louis Gascoigne of developer Visceral Games told Joystiq that any upgrades to the weapon in the original won't carry over to the sequel. Still, it's a freebie and a hat-tip to those who played the first Dead Space. And if you haven't yet, the cutter's yours for the price of a rental.</p> <p><a href="http://www.gamespot.com/ps3/action/deadspace2workingtitle/show_msgs.php?topic_id=m-1-57585576&pid=975302">Good News for Those That Played the Original</a> [GameSpot via <a href="http://www.joystiq.com/2011/01/01/dead-space-save-file-unlocks-original-plasma-cutter-in-dead-spac/">Joystiq</a>]</p>
1 minutes and 3 seconds

Mass Effect 2's Cerberus Network Taking Hiatus; More DLC Confirmed

Mass Effect 2's Cerberus Network...

Revive the Open Beta!

The game has improved significantly over the last couple months, thanks in no small part to the help that you've given us. However, the open beta has now run it's course and we will be closing it down between the 3rd and 4th of January. However,...

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Saturday, January 1st, 2011

2 Pulses

PC gamers have won the Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam battle for Hastings

<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/2011/01/01/pc-gamers-have-won-the-battlefield-bad-company-2-vietnam-battle-for-hastings/" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent Link to PC gamers have won the Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam battle for Hastings"><img width="590" height="224" src="http://media.pcgamer.com/files/2010/11/Battlefield-Bad-Company-2-Vietnam-590x224.jpg" class="attachment-590x500 wp-post-image" alt="" title="Battlefield Bad Company 2 Vietnam" /></a> <br /> What's the best word for this? "Pwned?" "Obliterated," perhaps. Let's just go with "destroyed". PC gamers have destroyed the console based opposition to take first place and unlock the hidden fifth map in Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam. The map was won by amassing 69 million team actions. As a result PC gamers can now enjoy the lush jungles of Operation Hastings while console gamers languish far behind in their dark, grey, Operation Hastings-less world.<br /> <br /> The victory was announced on the Battlefield: Bad Company 2 blog. The competition was launched 9 days ago, and the map unlocked for PC players yesterday, which means a staggering 8 375 000 team actions were performed every day to release the map. So far Xbox 360 gamers have performed 40 million team actions, while the Playstation 3 crowd have only managed 30 million. Congratulations to all the Bad Company veterans helping out their team mates over the last week, you've done the PC proud.<br /> <br />
1 minutes and 7 seconds

This Weekend Only!

Certain uncomfortable international treaties have expired allowing us to bring you a WEEKEND PAINT SALE that's sure to enrage the Bavarian anti-paint lobby. It's going on now inside Team Fortress 2. During this New Year's weekend you can get most hat paints for half off, black and white paint is available on the store for a limited time, and name tags and description tags are also on sale!
23 seconds

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Friday, December 31st, 2010

5 Pulses

Happy 2011!

Happy 2011 from Audiosurf-land! This week we've got some upbeat rock from the UK's Heifervescent. These songs remind me of sitting around watching Brady Bunch reruns where Greg wants to be a rock star--the lyrics suggest there's nothing more to worry about than which girl to take to Friday night's dance, or arguing over who's got the dreamiest eyes. I like it. "Magnetized" and "Superglue" have the thickest traffic. "What's this all about?" has a 70s pop feel to it, and "Lunar Module" is the most laid-back of the bunch. Lebeth
32 seconds

New Year's Eve Update

<center><img src=http://www.l4d.com/blog/images/posts/054/flu-season.jpg></center><br /><br /> Flu Season, Mutation Poll, Secondary Weapon, Next Year
8 seconds

Arcadia Update Released

Updates to Arcadia have been released. The updates will be applied automatically when your Steam client is restarted. The major changes include:<br><br><ul style="padding-bottom: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px;" ><li>Added Autofire - Q<br><li>Game no longer uses WINAPI<br><li>Clean colours<br><li>New Engine - Runs on OpenGL and SDL<br><li>NEW hud with all of your stats are in the top left<br><li>Added a Screenshot tool<br><li>Added a Settings file<br><li>Added Gamepad support<br><li>Added New config parser<br></ul>
31 seconds

Fallout 3 Tribute Available on Rock Band Store

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AI War Beta 4.059

AI War Facebook page Arcen Games'

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Thursday, December 30th, 2010

6 Pulses

STALKER: Call of Pripyat mod tools released

<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/2010/12/30/stalker-call-of-pripyat-mod-tools-released/" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent Link to STALKER: Call of Pripyat mod tools released"><img width="590" height="243" src="http://media.pcgamer.com/files/2010/11/Stalker-Call-of-Pripyat-590x243.jpg" class="attachment-590x500 wp-post-image" alt="" title="Stalker Call of Pripyat" /></a> <br /> As a special New Year's Eve present, STALKER developers CDC have decided to release the full Software Development Kit for the X-ray 1.6 engine, the force behind the most recent STALKER game, Call of Pripyat. This is the first time fans have had access to fully featured mod tools for the latest STALKER game, and the new tools will give players the power to create whole single player and multiplayer missions. Check out the official STALKER site to get your hands on the new tools.
45 seconds

The Platform That Plays Together Unlocks The Bad Company: Vietnam Map First

<p><a rel="lytebox" href="http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/9/2010/12/bfbchastings.jpg"><img src="http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/9/2010/12/340x_bfbchastings.jpg" width="340" class="left image340" alt="The Platform That Plays Together Unlocks The Bad Company: Vietnam Map First" /></a>Battlefield: Bad Company 2 wanted to see a team spirit on its new Vietnam DLC package before unlocking a remastered Operation: Hastings map. PC players have answered the call first, passing the 69 million "team action" threshold required earlier today.</p><p>By comparison, the Xbox 360 community is about halfway there (37 million team actions), and the PS3 community trails that total by 10 million. What's a team action? It's the three Rs and an H. And an S. Resupply, revive, repair, heal and spot. Any of those carried out in BFBC2 Vietnam, retroactive to its release date, counts toward the unlock total.</p> <p>The glorious PC community's triumph could be attributed to any number of factors. Maybe it has more players, or more players putting in more time. Or maybe they are more selfless and public-spirited.</p> <p>Naaaaah.</p> <p><a href="http://www.battlefieldbadcompany2.com/vietnam/battleforhastings">Battle for Hastings</a> [Battlefield: Bad Company 2 official site, via <a href="http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/106526-PC-Gamers-Beat-Console-Crowd-to-Bad-Company-2-Vietnam-Map-Unlock">The Escapist</a>]</p>
1 minutes and 9 seconds

15 things we want to see in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/2010/12/30/15-things-we-want-to-see-in-the-elder-scrolls-v-skyrim/" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent Link to 15 things we want to see in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim"><img width="590" height="324" src="http://media.pcgamer.com/files/2010/12/Skyrim-Wishlist-Dungeons-590x324.jpg" class="attachment-590x500 wp-post-image" alt="" title="Skyrim Wishlist - Dungeons" /></a> <br /> I love Oblivion, but not because it was perfect. That and the previous Elder Scrolls game Morrowind were great because they tried more than they could do flawlessly - that's what made them so liberating compared to a lot of other RPGs. Now that we know Skyrim is coming, though, it's time to take a harder look at what the Elder Scrolls games could be doing better. This is what we want from The Elder Scrolls V.<br /> <br /> 1. A better level up system<br /> If I want to be a good swordsman in Oblivion, the last thing I should do is pick Blade as one of my specialty skills. If I avoid it completely, I can still get better with a sword through practise, and it won't raise my character level. I can become the greatest swordsman in the world for any given level.<br /> <br /> Improving skills with practise is a cornerstone of the Elder Scrolls series, and it has potential. But TES V needs to find a smarter way to blend it with the intentionality of character customisation.<br /> <br /> 2. Content that doesn't scale<br /> We need to feel like leveling up makes us more powerful. If the whole world levels up with us, that sense is lost. It also makes the game world too even: nowhere is particularly dangerous in Oblivion because everything is so politely level-appropriate. Morrowind had some level-scaling, but enough fixed danger to feel wild, and enough genuine progression to be compulsive.<br /> <br /> 3. Vicious combat<br /> <br /> At level 1, hitting someone with a warhammer feels great. They just crumple. In the late game, though, you and your enemies have such a vast pool of hitpoints that every fight is a war of attrition, which makes each blow feel meaningless. It needs to be quick, vicious and deadly, whatever level you're at.<br /> <br /> 4. A bigger voice cast<br /> Unless one of them is Billy West (Fry, Dr Zoidberg, Professor Farnsworth, Zapp Brannigan, Richard Nixon, Abraham Lincoln, Leo Wong and Humorbot 5.0 in Futurama), you can't use the same few guys for a world with hundreds of characters. You don't have to stump up for big names like Patrick Stewart and Sean Bean again - their celebrity didn't make the game better. Spend that money on a dozen more decent, varied performances.<br /> <br /> 5. Better faces<br /> Look what you did to Patrick Stewart:<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> 6. No face zoom<br /> Regardless of looks, it's not polite to get up in someone's grill to quite this extent. Particularly if it involves extending your neck more than three meters.<br /> <br /> 7. NPCs who know when to shut up<br /> Hey guys, the player's here! Let's all make canned smalltalk at the same time! Make sure your reply doesn't quite relate to what I said, and it's one he's heard three times in the last two minutes! Good day!<br /> <br /> 8. A more exciting magic system<br /> <br /> The Destruction school of magic I inderstand. Restoration: yes. Even Illusion - invisibility and whatnot, great. Then Alteration? Spells that alter things? Don't all spells alter things? And Mysticism - as opposed to scientific magic? Some of the spells are great, but the schools themselves are well overdue for an overhaul to make them more logical, distinct and exciting.<br /> <br /> 9. Weird places<br /> Forests are great. I have no issues with hills. I love a good lake. But I hope Skyrim has some regions that are just a little off, a little alien, a little non-Tolkeinian. That's why there are hordes of Morrowind fans who never accepted Oblivion - that and:<br /> <br /> 10. A proper PC interface<br /> Come on, nerdy stats and inventory lists are what the PC was made for. Let us at 'em. Oblivion's interface is capable of listing between THREE and SIX items at a time before you have to scroll. Same goes for the map - if Bethesda have any idea how important a really good map can be to the sense of being in a fantasy world, the size of the damn thing in Oblivion didn't show it. These aren't huge issues, but look: modders fixed them in a day or two. If you seriously don't have anyone who can do that before release, hire those modders.<br /> <br /> I know every cross-platform developer loves to say "All three versions are identical," to wash their hands of the platform wars, but guys: they're not. One of them is played with a mouse and keyboard from two feet away. Notice this.<br /> <br /> 11. Varied dungeons<br /> <br /> We know you can do this now - Fallout 3 is an object lesson in filling an open world with interestingly different locations. Fantasy equivalent of that, please.<br /> <br /> 12. A main quest without the padding<br /> The Oblivion gates themselves were the least interesting thing in Oblivion, reducing a freeform game to straight combat. So please don't ask us to fight through six of them in a row - very few players realised that they were even optional. The main quest in TES V should be as long or short as the interestingly different content you can make for it.<br /> <br /> 13. A villain we hate<br /> <br /> It's hard to really get worked up about demons bent on destroying the world. I'd rather they didn't, but I have nothing against them personally. In Mass Effect, no-one really hated the Reapers. The guy we couldn't wait to kill was Saren, because our beef was personal. You don't have to have them kill our father/mother/brother/son/girlfriend - in fact that rarely works. They just have to be a bastard, and one who's getting away with it.<br /> <br /> 14. Modding tools<br /> <br /> Bethesda have always been good with this - The Elder Scrolls Construction Set is a modder's dream, and the 24,000 mods it's led to demonstrates that. Almost every other niggle with Oblivion in this list was eventually addressed by the community. Unless you have a secret formula for making TES V all things to all people, please keep giving people the tools to tinker.<br /> <br /> 15. Free horse armour
5 minutes and 44 seconds

Do Cheap Tactics Ruin Online Multiplayer?

Do Cheap Tactics Ruin Online...

PC gamers are winning the Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam platform war

These Are Some Of The Guys Who Made Red Dead Look So Good

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Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

12 Pulses

Call of Duty Players Log More Than 600 Million Hours In 45 Days

<p><a rel="lytebox" href="http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/9/2010/12/blacknavi.jpg"><img src="http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/9/2010/12/500x_blacknavi.jpg" width="500" class="left image500" alt="Call of Duty Players Log More Than 600 Million Hours In 45 Days" /></a>Lending weight to CEO Bobby Kotick's claim that Call of Duty is as much a social networking phenomenon as it is a video gaming one, Activision released numbers boasting of online time that, per user, surpasses the Facebook average.</p><p>More than 20 million users on Call of Duty: Black Ops logged more than 600 million hours of playtime between the game's Nov. 9 release and Dec. 24, Activision said. That computes to an average of 87 minutes per day per player. Facebook's per-day/per-user average is around 55 minutes.</p> <p>Gamasutra noted that the Xbox 360 exclusive Halo: Reach logged 50 million man-hours of play over its first week of availability - or a little over half of Black Ops' total if it was sustained over 45 days.</p> <p>In <a href="http://kotaku.com/5718425/activision-ceo-sees-call-of-duty-as-a-form-of-social-media">an interview with CNN last week</a>, Kotick boasted of Call of Duty's heft alongside Facebook, text messaging, and other social networking phenomena. "The audience of 'Call of Duty' is probably greater in terms of size than in any other interactive form of entertainment," Kotick said.</p> <p><a href="http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/32204/Activision_Over_20_Million_Black_Ops_Players_Log_More_Than_600_Million_Hours.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+GamasutraNews+(Gamasutra+News)">Activision: Over 20 Million Black Ops Players Log More Than 600 Million Hours</a> [Gamasutra]</p>
1 minutes and 26 seconds

The Year In Disappointments

<p><a rel="lytebox" href="http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/9/2010/12/sadhomer.jpg"><img src="http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/9/2010/12/500x_sadhomer.jpg" width="500" class="left image500" alt="The Year In Disappointments" /></a>There were so many things to get excited about in 2010! So many things to cherish! Sadly, life isn't all kittens and rainbows, and for every up, there must be a down.</p> <p>These are 2010's biggest video gaming disappointments. Now, before we go any further, know that few of the things we're listing below were <em>terrible</em>. <strong>These aren't the worst things in video gaming for 2010</strong>. They're just the things that we hoped or expected would be at a certain level of quality or success, but for whatever reason, were not. In other words, a disappointment!</p> <h2><strong>FINAL FANTASY XIII</strong></h2> <p><!-- videoId: TU-mCRvtX8g --><script type="text/javascript"> newVideoPlayer( {"type":"video","player":"http:\/\/www.youtube.com\/v\/TU-mCRvtX8g&hl=en&fs=1&hd=1","customParams":[],"width":500,"height":332.5,"ratio":0.615,"flashData":"","embedName":null,"objectId":null,"noEmbed":false,"source":"youtube","wrap":true,"agegate":false} ); </script><!-- /videoId: TU-mCRvtX8g --><br> There are few game series in the world that can truly be classed as being "AAA". Mario, Halo, Zelda, Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto. Oh, and Final Fantasy. Now consider, when was the last time any game in any of those series turned out to be not just a disappointment, but a genuinely poor game?</p> <p>It's so rare these days that to see Final Fantasy XIII in the state it was released is slightly shocking. <a href="http://kotaku.com/5666353/final-fantasy-xiii-developers-couldnt-cater-to-a-western-audience">It's like the game was never tested to see if people would actually enjoy it</a>.</p> <p>You can say it's sterile, that its "gameplay" consists of little more than running from point A to point B selecting menus, but surely its biggest crime was in expecting more than a hardcore cadre of consumers to be willing to spend over <em>20 hours</em> on what is essentially the game's tutorial.</p> <p>What <em>really</em> qualifies FFXIII as a disappointment, though, was how much of a backwards step it was from Final Fantasy XII. With XII, Square Enix had shown it was capable of shrugging off the baggage of expectation and protocol a decades-old series accumulates, and genuinely experiment with the franchise. Take a few risks! Final Fantasy XIII, in an act of cowardice, undoes nearly all of that.</p> <h2><strong>MEDAL OF HONOR</strong></h2> <p><!-- videoId: y9DzKZOfbd0 --><script type="text/javascript"> newVideoPlayer( {"type":"video","player":"http:\/\/www.youtube.com\/v\/y9DzKZOfbd0&hl=en&fs=1&hd=1","customParams":[],"width":500,"height":332.5,"ratio":0.615,"flashData":"","embedName":null,"objectId":null,"noEmbed":false,"source":"youtube","wrap":true,"agegate":false} ); </script><!-- /videoId: y9DzKZOfbd0 --><br> Medal of Honor as a game was disappointing. We were promised an authentic experience based on a contemporary conflict, and instead got a boring corridor shooter almost entirely reliant on broken scripting.</p> <p>But Medal of Honor as a statement was an even greater disappointment. By setting its war in Afghanistan, developers Electronic Arts had drawn a political line in the sand. It was saying that it had the guts to set a video game in a politically contentious setting. This was epitomised in the fact you could play as a member of the Taliban in the game's multiplayer component.</p> <p>It was a shame, then, that under both political and commercial pressure, EA backed down and removed the "Taliban" name from Medal of Honor's multiplayer. Not because anyone really cared about how it affected the game; had it been revealed as a NATO vs "Insurgents" game from the beginning, it would not have been an issue. But it was sad to see a video game publisher commit to such a brave creative decision, then fail to stick to it.</p> <h2><strong>ALAN WAKE</strong></h2> <p><!-- videoId: 9NFAzoD4_Yo --><script type="text/javascript"> newVideoPlayer( {"type":"video","player":"http:\/\/www.youtube.com\/v\/9NFAzoD4_Yo&hl=en&fs=1&hd=1","customParams":[],"width":500,"height":332.5,"ratio":0.615,"flashData":"","embedName":null,"objectId":null,"noEmbed":false,"source":"youtube","wrap":true,"agegate":false} ); </script><!-- /videoId: 9NFAzoD4_Yo --><br> A game <a href="http://kotaku.com/5661920/review-alan-wake-the-writer">that's not terrible by any means</a>, but...did it really take five years to make a Resident Evil clone with such - ironically, given the setting - awful writing? It's clear that developers Remedy would rather be making movies than games, otherwise more time would have been spent making Wake a better <em>game</em>, and less time spent cosplaying in a TV adaptation of a Stephen King novel.</p> <h2><strong>PRINCE OF PERSIA</strong></h2> <p><!-- videoId: ZgEt-4L3fKQ --><script type="text/javascript"> newVideoPlayer( {"type":"video","player":"http:\/\/www.youtube.com\/v\/ZgEt-4L3fKQ&hl=en&fs=1&hd=1","customParams":[],"width":500,"height":332.5,"ratio":0.615,"flashData":"","embedName":null,"objectId":null,"noEmbed":false,"source":"youtube","wrap":true,"agegate":false} ); </script><!-- /videoId: ZgEt-4L3fKQ --><br> We're talking about the movie here. <a href="http://kotaku.com/5550169/prince-of-persia-movie-review-ride-on-chesty-jake">While it was an entirely passable piece of fiction</a>, it was still disappointing to find that, despite the involvement of real directors, real actors and real cash money (not to mention the original game's creator), the best we got was a forgettable, drawn-out Summer popcorn flick.</p> <p>Proof if ever it was needed that Hollywood needs to start writing game movies based on great stories, not great characters or settings.</p> <h2><strong>STARCRAFT II</strong></h2> <p><!-- videoId: rgyL08nhtkw --><script type="text/javascript"> newVideoPlayer( {"type":"video","player":"http:\/\/www.youtube.com\/v\/rgyL08nhtkw&hl=en&fs=1&hd=1","customParams":[],"width":500,"height":332.5,"ratio":0.615,"flashData":"","embedName":null,"objectId":null,"noEmbed":false,"source":"youtube","wrap":true,"agegate":false} ); </script><!-- /videoId: rgyL08nhtkw --><br> We're not disappointed with Starcraft II. Not in the slightest. Just a little disappointed with <em>part</em> of it.</p> <p>Most would agree Starcraft II is, at the very least, <a href="http://kotaku.com/5600857/starcraft-ii-wings-of-liberty-review-upgrade-complete">a good game. Maybe even great</a>. It's slick, it's accessible, it's <em>fun</em>. Despite this, there's a tinge of disappointment to be found. Even Blizzard's most adoring fans must feel slightly let down that more wasn't done with the game's nuts and bolts in the decade since the first game's release, especially given the advances made in the real-time strategy genre since the year 2000.</p> <p>Sure, it's a trivial complaint compared to some of the grave let-downs above, but when you're left with a ten year space between sequels, you like to think <em>something</em> will have changed!</p> <p>The argument can be made that, with so many fans built up over such a long space of time, developers Blizzard couldn't afford to go making wholesale changes to the way the game was played. A counter to that, though, would be to suggest that if people wanted to play a game like the first Starcraft, they can still play the first Starcraft.</p> <h2><strong>SCOTT PILGRIM vs THE WORLD</strong></h2> <p><!-- videoId: 8NUBVcit5VM --><script type="text/javascript"> newVideoPlayer( {"type":"video","player":"http:\/\/www.youtube.com\/v\/8NUBVcit5VM&hl=en&fs=1&hd=1","customParams":[],"width":500,"height":332.5,"ratio":0.615,"flashData":"","embedName":null,"objectId":null,"noEmbed":false,"source":"youtube","wrap":true,"agegate":false} ); </script><!-- /videoId: 8NUBVcit5VM --><br> This one's a little different. We weren't disappointed with the Hollywood adaptation of Scott Pilgrim at <em>all</em>. While it had its lulls, it did as good a job as could be hoped of translating the comic's quirks to the big screen.</p> <p>What we're disappointed with was how everyone else felt about the movie. As in, they didn't go. Despite a big advertising push, the film <a href="http://kotaku.com/5616442/scott-pilgrims-debut-looks-even-worse-with-context">tanked at the box office</a>, leaving everyone who saw it - or put money into it- scratching their heads and wondering where it all went wrong.</p> <h2><strong>SONIC 4: EPISODE 1</strong></h2> <p><!-- videoId: dzsIdp_eiv0 --><script type="text/javascript"> newVideoPlayer( {"type":"video","player":"http:\/\/www.youtube.com\/v\/dzsIdp_eiv0&hl=en&fs=1&hd=1","customParams":[],"width":500,"height":332.5,"ratio":0.615,"flashData":"","embedName":null,"objectId":null,"noEmbed":false,"source":"youtube","wrap":true,"agegate":false} ); </script><!-- /videoId: dzsIdp_eiv0 --><br> Sonic fans, those loyal enough to have stood by the blue hedgehog after <em>years</em> of abuse, have been saying <em>forever</em> that all the world needed was another "proper" Sonic game. No more 3D, no more werehogs, no more kissing. Just Sonic, 2D gameplay and some gold rings.</p> <p>In 2010, those fans got exactly what they asked for. And it was...yeah. Not so great. That'll teach you all to get so excited you ignore the "<a href="http://img150.imageshack.us/img150/125/1219784882919by0.png">Sonic Cycle</a>"!</p> <h2><strong>THE FORCE UNLEASHED II</strong></h2> <p><!-- videoId: 3n6UaBj-OQw --><script type="text/javascript"> newVideoPlayer( {"type":"video","player":"http:\/\/www.youtube.com\/v\/3n6UaBj-OQw&hl=en&fs=1&hd=1","customParams":[],"width":500,"height":332.5,"ratio":0.615,"flashData":"","embedName":null,"objectId":null,"noEmbed":false,"source":"youtube","wrap":true,"agegate":false} ); </script><!-- /videoId: 3n6UaBj-OQw --><br> The first Force Unleashed was an OK title that packed enough quality Star Wars fiction inside that people enjoyed it. A sequel, then, should be a good thing! Keep the fiction, improve what was wrong with the game, and we've got a winner!</p> <p>Not in Force Unleashed II's case. What should have been Lucasarts' best game in years became one of its more embarrassing, the game clearly lacking polish and shipping in a short, decidedly unfinished state. It even screwed up the story, the only thing the first game had going for it.</p> <h2><strong>CRACKDOWN 2</strong></h2> <p><!-- videoId: zwB0xfwxJ_U --><script type="text/javascript"> newVideoPlayer( {"type":"video","player":"http:\/\/www.youtube.com\/v\/zwB0xfwxJ_U&hl=en&fs=1&hd=1","customParams":[],"width":500,"height":332.5,"ratio":0.615,"flashData":"","embedName":null,"objectId":null,"noEmbed":false,"source":"youtube","wrap":true,"agegate":false} ); </script><!-- /videoId: zwB0xfwxJ_U --><br> Crackdown was awesome! It was also released in 2007. Its sequel, released in 2010, somehow managed to be a lesser game, in most cases failing to improve on the original at all, and in the places it did change things they were usually for the worse.</p> <p>Considering Crackdown was such a cult hit, and that people had been asking for a sequel for years, to get such a half-baked title was one of 2010's bigger disappointments.</p> <p>&mdash; &mdash;</p> <p>And that's it! If you feel we've overlooked anything - and we may have! - let us know, we might just add it to the list.</p>
9 minutes and 37 seconds

Monday Night Combat Is Half Off Today

<p><a rel="lytebox" href="http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/9/2010/12/mnc2.jpeg"><img src="http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/9/2010/12/500x_mnc2.jpg" width="500" class="left image500" alt="Monday Night Combat Is Half Off Today" /></a>Less than a month before it releases on Steam, Monday Night Combat has dropped to half off over Xbox Live Arcade for the time being. You can grab the cooperative/competitive shooter for just 600 Microsoft Points ($7.50) while supplies last.</p> <p>Clarification: The sale is for today only, says Uber Entertainment.</p> <p>For those who are buying this, or already have but have forgotten - the Spunky Cola Special DLC also is free so run go get that, too. The package, which released Dec. 1 gives you two new arenas and a slew of other details and features you may <a href="http://kotaku.com/5702561/monday-night-combats-new-spunky-cola-refreshes">read about here.</a></p>
53 seconds

The Ball 75% Off - Daily Deal!

As part of today's Steam Winter Sale, The Ball is available for 75% off for the next 24 hours! Don't drop The Ball on this one, roll up and find out what is rumbling with The Ball today!

Trine Update Released for Mac

Updates for Trine have been released. The updates will be applied automatically when your Steam client is restarted. The major changes include:

Mac Changes

  • Steam Cloud now...

Maximum kersplode: Five ridiculous Crysis explosions

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Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

14 Pulses

Beat Hazard Update Released

Updates to Beat Hazard have been released. The updates will be applied automatically when your Steam client is restarted. The major changes include:<br><ul style="padding-bottom: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px;" ><li>Improved generic gamepad configuration to detect more axis<br><li>Added Pref command to remove quit screen<br><li>Added Pref command to use alternative mouse aiming<br><li>Added Pref command to reset your rank to zero<br><li>Added Pref command to reset your song scores<br></ul>
27 seconds

Call of Duty: Black Ops Nabs 'Most Pirated Game of 2010' Distinction

<p><a rel="lytebox" href="http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/9/2010/12/black_ops_bittorrent.jpg"><img src="http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/9/2010/12/500x_black_ops_bittorrent.jpg" width="500" class="left image500" alt="Call of Duty: Black Ops Nabs 'Most Pirated Game of 2010' Distinction" /></a>Not only is <a href="http://kotaku.com/tag/callofdutyblackops">Call of Duty: Black Ops</a> one of the fastest selling video games of all time, racking up more than a <a href="http://kotaku.com/5715720/youve-purchased-1-billion-worth-of-call-of-duty-black-ops">billion dollars</a> in sales in 2010, it's also impressively enough one of the most illegally downloaded.</p> <p>According to a report from BitTorrent news site <a href="http://torrentfreak.com/call-of-duty-black-ops-most-pirated-game-of-2010-101228">TorrentFreak</a>, the PC version of Black Ops has been pirated an impressive 4.2 million times. The newest Call of Duty bested Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (3.96 million downloads), Mafia II and Mass Effect 2 to take home the most-stolen crown.</p> <p>Thieves who own an Xbox 360 did their share in Black Ops stealing, downloading that console version 930,000 times, according to TorrentFreak's numbers. Dante's Inferno wound up being the most downloaded Xbox 360 game, with Super Mario Galaxy 2 sitting atop the most pirated list on for Wii owners. Congratulations all around!</p> <p>More impressive numbers at TorrentFreak.</p> <p><a href="http://torrentfreak.com/call-of-duty-black-ops-most-pirated-game-of-2010-101228/">Call of Duty: Black Ops Most Pirated Game of 2010</a> [TorrentFreak]</p>
1 minutes and 16 seconds

RUSH is a Steam daily deal!

Hi all, Our other puzzle game, RUSH, is now a daily deal! Only today 66% OFF: <a href="http://bit.ly/rush_steam">http://bit.ly/rush_steam</a> Cheers, Two Tribes
10 seconds

RUSH is a Steam daily deal!

Hi all, RUSH for Steam is now a daily deal! Only today 66% OFF: http://bit.ly/rush_steam Cheers, Two Tribes

KF 75% off for less than 1 hour

Less than 45 minutes left to get KF at 75% off before it returns to 50% with the rest of the Tripwire collection for the rest of the sale! Make sure you don't miss out, and don't forget to give the gift of KF! (For those of you who already own...

See 100% Of Quake In Under An Hour

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Monday, December 27th, 2010

8 Pulses

Killing Floor - Daily Deal

For today only, Killing Floor and all it's DLC are 75% off. Make sure to pick up the bundle or the DLC you are missing before it's gone (You won't see KF at this price for a long time)!!! And if you already have it, don't forget to give the greatest gift this holiday season, the gift of Killing Floor! As a reminder this is also the last chance to pick up the Team Fortress 2 bonus items from Mr. Foster! We'll see you all in the new year as we gear up on Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad!
35 seconds

Super Meat Boy Hacked Into Super Smash Bros.

<p><!-- videoId: vLXlrVPqk8E --><script type="text/javascript"> newVideoPlayer( {"type":"video","player":"http:\/\/www.youtube.com\/v\/vLXlrVPqk8E&hl=en&fs=1&hd=1","customParams":[],"width":500,"height":332.5,"ratio":0.615,"flashData":"","embedName":null,"objectId":null,"noEmbed":false,"source":"youtube","wrap":true,"agegate":false} ); </script><!-- /videoId: vLXlrVPqk8E --> The Wii release of <a href="http://kotaku.com/tag/supermeatboy">Super Meat Boy</a> is looking <a href="http://kotaku.com/5717345/super-meat-boys-wiiware-release-canceled-disc-release-looking-grim">grim</a>, but resourceful Super Smash Bros. Brawl hackers find a way to get the blocky man of meat into Nintendo's beat 'em up.</p> <p>There's not much meat to this clip showing off the Brawl hack, via <a href="http://www.destructoid.com/now-super-meat-boy-is-in-smash-bros-brawl-190378.phtml">Destructoid</a>, but it goes to show you that Kirby is definitely the most flexible of Super Smash Bros. fighters. Grab said hack <a href="http://forums.kc-mm.com/Gallery/BrawlView.php?Number=15057">here</a>, if you want more Meat Boy in your life.</p>
57 seconds

Making History II Update Released

Updates to Making History II have been released. The updates will be applied automatically when your Steam client is restarted. The major changes include:<br><br>Making History II 1.21 Release Notes<br><br>New Features <br><ul style="padding-bottom: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px;" ><li>Change MPU growth system to take more factors into account <br><ul style="padding-bottom: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px;" > <li>Now looks at Region Stability, Transportation Infrastructure, and Colony/Occupied Status in addition to population<br></ul><li>Added mipmap support for textures and improved quality <br><li>Improved support for player mods <br><ul style="padding-bottom: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px;" > <li>Created a folder for them to live in<br> <li>Game updates will no longer delete mods<br> <li>Launcher will look for mods in the mods folder and load them<br></ul></ul>Bug Fixes <br><ul style="padding-bottom: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px;" ><li>Exclude occupied regions from national stability calculation <br><li>Remove restriction that transports need to be in port to load/unload air units <br><li>Fix bug that allowed air units to rebase from a carrier to a region without an airbase <br><li>MPUs are now returned to a nations stockpiles when units are disbanded <br><li>Fixed a number of UI errors with National Programs <br><li>Fixed bug where moving units would sometimes face the wrong direction <br><li>Fix bug that allowed units to upgrade when out of supply (such as ships at sea)<br><li>Fix sorting by turns remaining in research project list (was sorting by % complete) <br><li>Fixed bug that prevented units from repairing/resupplying/upgrading when they were on a carrier or transport <br><li>Fix bug that allowed region stability to go over 100 <br><li>Fixed bug that prevented naval units from retreating <br><li>Fixed game stalling bug that occurred when a revolting region tried to join a human controlled nation <br><li>Fix bug that sometimes caused surface ship vs. submarine battles to end prematurely <br><li>Destroy air units at airbases that get dismantled <br><li>Change so that troops recruited in occupied territory retain their native nationality <br><li>Fix rare crash related to Interdiction <br><li>Fixed bug in reloading decision points from saved games <br><li>Allow nations to be liberated even if there is no city <br><li>Fix population calculation for nationalities <br><li>Fixed bug where units in regions when war is declared sometimes didn't capture the region <br><li>Fixed bug that allowed carrier air units to continue their missions even if the carrier moved out of range <br><li>Fixed bug that prevented stolen research points from being applied <br><li>Fixed bug that allowed one per region projects to be queued more than once <br><li>Filter out build options for region projects that are lower level than what already exists in the region <br><li>Fixed game stall when AI was using units in allied territory <br><li>Fixed bug that allowed invading units to fully resupply when in multi-turn combat <br><li>Fix bug that sometimes caused newly created nations to have white borders <br><li>Remove decision points when nation is destroyed (fixes save fail bug) <br><li>Fix bug that prevented historic capital data being used for newly created nations <br><li>Fixed bug that would sometimes cause nations to be at war with each other multiple times after alliance merges <br><li>Fixed bug that would sometimes cause AI units to get stuck in puppets <br><li>Fixed bug that prevented other planes from escorting Air Transports on paratrooper drops <br></ul>UI<br><ul style="padding-bottom: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px;" ><li>Revised tooltips on group unit icons on tab <br><li>Revised some icons & buttons <br><li>Some initial modifications to the Treaty Panels <br><li>Fixed icons for Government programs <br><li>Fix display of combat powers in city unit panel <br><li>Improved notifications for National Programs to improve feedback <br><li>Cleaned up National Programs panel <br><li>Add missing Missile icon <br><li>Format Employed MPUs number on Gov panel tooltip <br><li>Swap the Up and Down sorting textures in list panels <br><li>Round turns remaining for research projects up rather than truncating <br><li>Added Region Stability to Region panel <br><li>Update Military Status panel to work with new flag icons <br><li>Fix display of Labor Efficiency in city panel <br><li>Added tool tips to Region Food Demand <br><li>Added National food demand to the food infobar icon <br><li>Changed Region Food Demand number to include Factory & Research MPUs <br><li>Showing Food Production Surplus on RegionTabInfo Panel <br><li>Added tool tips to Region Revolt risk on RegionTabData <br><li>"Fund Political Opposition" no longer lets you choose the ruling ideology <br><li>Added Ideology Balance numbers to Liberation & Fund Opposition <br><li>Fix label on Region Stability in Region panel <br><li>Treaty panel cleanup <br><li>Updated sea region panel <br><li>Small clean-up to Territory transfer panel <br><li>Clean-up on Production Queue bubbles, added time remaining to active projects and % complete to paused projects <br><li>Corrected problem preventing tool tips on Group bubbles during Merge order <br><li>Updated Region Project Queue bubbles to be consistent with style & operation of the city version <br><li>Added National Population number to Diplomatic Panel <br><li>Fixed issue where text in some popups didn't fit <br><li>Add name of Air group to Patrol RC menu option <br><li>Increase the width of the map RC menu items <br><li>Cleaned up orders UI on unit selection panel <br><li>Added tooltips to orders on unit selection panel <br><li>Fix arrow not updating when a unit has a "Load" order and the fleet is repositioned <br><li>Added list of nations embargoing selected nation to nation UI panel <br><li>Change to display the modified output of resource producers <br><li>Fixed sorting for nationality icons on Region & city list panels <br><li>Fixed clipping of 4 digit defense tool tip<br></ul><br>AI <br><ul style="padding-bottom: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px;" ><li>Improve naval threat detection <br><li>Fixed bug in AI detecting where units were destroyed <br><li>Improved AI for trade interdiction <br><li>Improved AI for submarine detection <br><li>Improved invasion targeting <br><li>Improved sea unit refueling <br><li>Improved handling of enemy air unit situations <br><li>Improved Shore Bombardment behavior <br><li>Improved use of air units for defense <br><li>Improved build choices, especially arms and units <br><li>Fixed bug in computing market price of resources <br><li>Improved choice of aggression target nations <br><li>Improved alliance behavior <br></ul>Content<br><ul style="padding-bottom: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px;" ><li>Added "The Brewing Storm" scenario <br><ul style="padding-bottom: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px;" > <li>Played on a map of Europe and the Mediterranean<br> <li>Starts 9/1/39<br></ul><li>Added missing region claims for Ovamboland which prevented it's establishment <br><li>Remove the ability for BiPlane Fighters to upgrade to non-carrier fighters <br><li>Increase the arms and oil carrying capacity of units <br><li>Fix combat properties for BattleCruisers and Heavy Cruisers <br><li>Fix spelling of Main Battle Tank <br><li>Gave Japan the ability to make Early Tanks and Submarines in TGQ <br><li>When creating a new nation use the base nation display name if it is not in use <br><li>Fixed Pre-req error for National Laboratories <br><li>Added missing region claim for Azwadi Nationality <br><li>Tuned costs of city buildings <br><li>Tune costs of region projects <br><li>Increased initial arms stockpiles <br><li>Add starting research for dormant nations to all scenarios <br></ul>Launcher <br><ul style="padding-bottom: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px;" ><li>Preserve the settings for Fogging and AI Difficulty across save and load <br><li>Added support for specifying a mods directory to installer <br><li>Added support for loading player mods <br><li>Added option to launch client and server in separate processes <br><ul style="padding-bottom: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px;" > <li>Should reduce lag on most machines <br> <li>Should eliminate "out of virtual memory" crashes <br></ul><li>Added default flag icon for nation list <br><li>Improve display of long nation names in nation list<br></ul>
7 minutes and 3 seconds

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 tutorial video is essential viewing for new recruits

Stuck in Super Meat Boy? Check out these speed runs

Team Fortress 2 – PC Gamer UK’s Online Game Of The Year

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2011 so far..

6,945 Pulses