We have received new release date information related to the order you placed on July 26, 2011 (Order# XXXXXXXXXXXXX). The item(s) listed below will actually ship sooner than we originally expected based on the new release date:
"Star Wars: The Old Republic Collector's Bundle"
Previous estimated arrival date: December 20, 2011
New estimated arrival date: December 16, 2011
If you want to check on the progress of your order, take a look at this page in Your Account:
We hope to see you again soon!
Customer Service Department
Oh, there you are. I've been waiting for you. It's been a long time. It's time we get back to blogging. For science. Valve, the studio behind the Half-Life series and The Orange Box, have finally released the sequel to 2008's smash hit, Portal 2.
In the single player campaign, the player once again controls Chell, the silent/mute test subject of Aperture Science who escaped the dangerous AI construct GLaDOS in the first game. Originally, Chell nearly escaped the facility blowing up and we assumed she got away. Valve retroactively changed the ending to show her getting dragged away by something, and now we know where she ended up. Back in the cage!
Portal 2 introduces many new mechanics for solving puzzles, notably gels. Taken from independent game Tag: The Power of Paint, the new gels (formerly paints) provide new ways of traveling through portals. The first you encounter is the blue Repulsion Gel, which essentially makes everything bounce off of it. While fun, it mostly just provides additional use to the orange Propulsion Gel, which makes any objects accelerate faster. A spot of blue gel at the end of an orange gel track gives you some serious power to make a long arc jump. The last gel, unique to Portal 2, is white Conversion Gel, allowing portals to be made on any surface. Aside from negating the game-long effort of looking for that one white patch to shoot, it is a pretty fantastic use of foreshadowing that pays off at the very end.
My disappointment is that it reversed the original game's recipe of "plot and thinking". Portal had no narrative; it was just a jungle gym with your robotic coach trying to kill you. It truly lived up to the idea of making you "think with portals" when the possibilities were endless. Now, they have added a gigantic (and well structured) narrative at the expense of critical thinking. Very few puzzles make you stop and scratch your head, short of two or three. It's more frustrating than mind-opening and I think that's a bad sign.
Speaking of narrative - oh my God. It's fantastic. It's not Shakespeare, but at least I can compare it to Shakespeare. There is a silent protagonist, a foil antagonist, a fool/seer, a reversal, and finally - some reconciliation. I wouldn't be surprised if some of these writers have experience in theater. The traversal through the abandoned Aperture Science labs is tiring sometimes, but the revelations are well placed. Encountering Cave Johnson's recordings is hilarious and enlightening at the same time. We progressively see the development of Aperture's testing facility and tools - although no verbal mention of the Portal Gun, even though signs visually confirm it was required to solve the tests. Not only do we learn more about Cave Johnson and Aperture, but we get to place events in the Half-Life chronology that led up to Black Mesa and Aperture's rivalry.
Of course you don't see Chell on the cover: you see two robots. Hinted at near the end of the single player campaign, the multiplayer gives you and another player control of Atlas and P-Body, two pieces of testing equipment given autonomy and sent through chambers that were deemed "too dangerous" for human testing. It's interesting to see puzzles that require two pairs of portals to completed - although most of them force you to make portals, send one person to get a better vantage point, then rearrange portals to get the other person up there. There aren't many tests where you have to make portals mid-air like an early test in SP.
I'm not going to say that Portal 2 is better than its predecessor, because it didn't blow me away. I wasn't "thinking with portals", I was using portals as a means to an end. I was just searching for that one spot to place the portal. The story and its value to the Half-Life series is great and much welcomed addition to Valve's series. What makes it a hard sell is the full game price when Portal was released as part of The Orange Box in 2007. That precedence makes it difficult to sell a single game for $60 after you've crammed 5 into that same price earlier. Regardless, Portal 2 still sold, leaving us with a new meme to (finally) replace "the cake is a lie". Yesterday I saw a deer, and... no, that will never catch on. I think "Space? Space! Spaaaaace!" has a better chance of being the meme from Portal 2.
As with all SP/MP games, the question arises, "is it worth the price if I just want to play one?" If you want to just play half the game, you may want to wait for half the price. Unless you're an achivement hunter, there isn't much replay value in either campaign - that's an inherent problem with puzzle games. Much like current FPS games that offer both gameplay, Portal 2 will likely be played for only one mode or the other. One thing that does help it live up to the price tag is the PS3 version, which is the first game to support Steam functionaly touted by Gabe Newell at E3 2010. While it isn't Steam as we know it, it does offer a shared achievement/trophy system and most importantly, owning the PS3 copy gives you a free license for the PC/Mac version. In a way, that $60 price tag nabs you 3 copies of the game, which is kinda cool, especially since Portal 2 supports cross-platform play (XBOX not supported). That shows some serious promise if Valve gets involved in facilitating more cross-platform play.
Portal 2 is definitely a fun game, but I didn't experience the same magic as before and it doesn't feel like it lives up to the retail cost. Trust me, I've already beaten it on XBOX and PS3, and just started on PC. I'm at least getting my money's worth.
As we all know, Sony's Playstation Network has been down for a week now, meaning no one has been able to log in, play multiplayer games or purchase/rent content from their store. For me, it means not being able to activate my Portal 2 to give me access to a Steam copy. Subscription services, like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Sony's Playstation Plus are also unavailable.
Sony originally called it an "external intrusion", but finally revealed that it was a malicious attack that compromised user information ranging from names and addresses to credit card info. This could spell serious trouble for Sony, as security breaches like this could mean people jumping ship to the XBOX camp. The PS3 hasn't had too many exclusives to make it specifically attractive over Microsoft's console, but there's always been a dedicated fanbase since the PSOne days. Unfortunately, some of that fanbase is on the lawsuit path, with at least one class action suit being filed.
Since I have all three consoles, I don't have reason to give up my PS3, but I'm definitely glad that I didn't get a PS+ subscription right before. Sony will have to work hard to gain consumer trust after this, and seeing how Hulu already beat them to the gratuity punch, they'll have to up the ante. Let's hope a free downloadable game or discount on PS+.... when PSN comes back. No word on when that will be.
Here's the official e-mail directly from Sony just a few minutes ago. It's a non-apology, but later releases reveal that a new firmware will be released to address the issue, which will force all users to change their passwords (better get your USB keyboard). Joystiq has been covering the story pretty well, so head over there and keep an eye on things.
Valued PlayStation(R)Network/Qriocity Customer:
We have discovered that between April 17 and April 19, 2011,
certain PlayStation Network and Qriocity service user account
information was compromised in connection with an illegal and
unauthorized intrusion into our network. In response to this
intrusion, we have:
1) Temporarily turned off PlayStation Network and Qriocity services;
2) Engaged an outside, recognized security firm to conduct a full
and complete investigation into what happened; and
3) Quickly taken steps to enhance security and strengthen our
network infrastructure by rebuilding our system to provide you
with greater protection of your personal information.
We greatly appreciate your patience, understanding and goodwill
as we do whatever it takes to resolve these issues as quickly and
efficiently as practicable.
Although we are still investigating the details of this incident,
we believe that an unauthorized person has obtained the following
information that you provided: name, address (city, state, zip), country,
email address, birthdate, PlayStation Network/Qriocity password and login,
and handle/PSN online ID. It is also possible that your profile data,
including purchase history and billing address (city, state, zip),
and your PlayStation Network/Qriocity password security answers may
have been obtained. If you have authorized a sub-account for your
dependent, the same data with respect to your dependent may have
been obtained. While there is no evidence at this time that credit
card data was taken, we cannot rule out the possibility. If you have
provided your credit card data through PlayStation Network or Qriocity,
out of an abundance of caution we are advising you that your credit
card number (excluding security code) and expiration date may have
For your security, we encourage you to be especially aware of email,
telephone and postal mail scams that ask for personal or sensitive
information. Sony will not contact you in any way, including by email,
asking for your credit card number, social security number or other
personally identifiable information. If you are asked for this information,
you can be confident Sony is not the entity asking. When the PlayStation
Network and Qriocity services are fully restored, we strongly recommend that
you log on and change your password. Additionally, if you use your PlayStation
Network or Qriocity user name or password for other unrelated services or
accounts, we strongly recommend that you change them as well.
To protect against possible identity theft or other financial loss, we
encourage you to remain vigilant, to review your account statements and
to monitor your credit reports. We are providing the following information
for those who wish to consider it:
- U.S. residents are entitled under U.S. law to one free credit report annually
from each of the three major credit bureaus. To order your free credit report,
visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call toll-free (877) 322-8228.
- We have also provided names and contact information for the three major U.S.
credit bureaus below. At no charge, U.S. residents can have these credit bureaus
place a "fraud alert" on your file that alerts creditors to take additional steps
to verify your identity prior to granting credit in your name. This service can
make it more difficult for someone to get credit in your name. Note, however,
that because it tells creditors to follow certain procedures to protect you,
it also may delay your ability to obtain credit while the agency verifies your
identity. As soon as one credit bureau confirms your fraud alert, the others
are notified to place fraud alerts on your file. Should you wish to place a
fraud alert, or should you have any questions regarding your credit report,
please contact any one of the agencies listed below:
Experian: 888-397-3742; www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
Equifax: 800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
TransUnion: 800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division,
P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
- You may wish to visit the website of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission at
www.consumer.gov/idtheft or reach the FTC at 1-877-382-4357 or 600 Pennsylvania
Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580 for further information about how to protect
yourself from identity theft. Your state Attorney General may also have advice
on preventing identity theft, and you should report instances of known or
suspected identity theft to law enforcement, your State Attorney General,
and the FTC. For North Carolina residents, the Attorney General can be
contacted at 9001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-9001; telephone
(877) 566-7226; or www.ncdoj.gov. For Maryland residents, the Attorney
General can be contacted at 200 St. Paul Place, 16th Floor, Baltimore, MD 21202;
telephone: (888) 743-0023; or www.oag.state.md.us.
We thank you for your patience as we complete our investigation of this
incident, and we regret any inconvenience. Our teams are working around the
clock on this, and services will be restored as soon as possible. Sony takes
information protection very seriously and will continue to work to ensure that
additional measures are taken to protect personally identifiable information.
Providing quality and secure entertainment services to our customers is
our utmost priority. Please contact us at 1-800-345-7669 should you have any
Sony Computer Entertainment and Sony Network Entertainment
I'm sure Josiah is expecting me to eat crow for bashing the Fallout series way back, but Fallout: New Vegas marks my second review of the franchise on this site. Before considering my thoughts on this game, read through my review of Fallout 3, which includes the first three expansions (written before the last two).
While Fallout 3 was the first game in the franchise that I played (out of the 5 total at that point), FNV gave me a lot of appreciation for the kind of work that went into the originals, without having to fire up incompatibly aged games. To add some context, Fallout and its direct sequel were developed by now-defunct Black Isle Studios. Two spin-offs were developed by different studios, where the franchise lay dormant for years. Zenimax Media, owner of Bethesda Studios (Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion), purchased the rights and created the 2008 hit Fallout 3. I found it to be an exact clone of Oblivion and refused to play it for months. 120+ hours later, I admit that there's gold in this series. When FNV was announced, I immediately preordered it on Steam. 50+ hours into it, I've come to the point where I feel comfortable reviewing it.
FNV is practically the same game as FO3; Obsidian is known for taking existing franchises and creating near-identical sequels to milk more money out of it. They did that for Star Wars KotOR after Bioware made a great first game, but like FNV, the sequel falls short of expectations. They took Bethesda's Gamebryo engine, the models, and the idea (which was theirs, in the first place) and copied it into a new game. Not being experts on someone else's engine, a lot of things went wrong. If there's one thing this game will be remembered for, it'll be the bugs. And I don't mean giant, fire-breathing bugs, I mean technical glitches in the game. All platforms were affected by faulty code one way or another, but PC gamers got to see some pretty outrageous stuff. Aside from the technical problems, I really wasn't impressed with the visuals. The models textures seem less detailed and somewhat cartoonish, reminding me of games from 10 years ago. It's more prominent in the pre-rendered cinematics, but even in game detail is somewhat diminished.
Not to get anyone's hopes up, but FNV doesn't really involve any Vaults. A few come up, but they're abandoned and not too relevant. Instead of being a Vault dweller, you are a Wasteland courier who is shot and left for dead. The main quest is to track down your assailant, unravel the mystery of why you were targeted, then feel free to find your place in the world, whether that be good or evil. You never feel too compelled for empathetic for him, which can be said for most "nameless protagonist". I would say that the story pales in comparison to what preceded it, replacing few good stories with many bad stories. That said, it's always hard to critique a sequel on its own merit and not compare it to the predecessor, especially one so highly acclaimed as FO3.
In this game, we still use the well established SPECIAL system, which is a pretty user-friendly GURPS mechanic and makes sense. The traits affect more aspects of gameplay, notably Luck improving your gambling. Aside from that, nothing has really changed in the RPS. They've added perks, some of which are copies of existing ones (Ladykiller/Blackwidow; Confirmed Bachelor/Cherchez La Femme). Weapons can now be modded with enhancements that increase DAM or ACC, which is cool, except for the mod being permanent. Something new to the franchise is factions. With so many different groups fighting over control over the Mojave desert, it's usually necessary to infiltrate their ranks to gain access. Naturally, this is done by wearing that group's clothing and winning speech challenges. This kind of situation is really why you'd want to emphasize speech over fighting. Of course, you can just kill everyone on sight and take over the wasteland, but it's really just safer to talk your way through everything... then kill everyone while they sleep. However, the most notable new feature is Hardcore Mode, easily described as "sh*t gets serious". Damage is more realistic, consumables regenerate health over time, and ammo has weight. Let me repeat that: ammo has weight. What kind of RPG does that? Bag. of. holding! You also suffer from dyhydration and sleep deprivation. I tried it and changed back after my first encounter with wild animals. Of course, it's supposed to be hard, but it's not supposed to be impossibly frustrating.
The most prominent game change is quest layout. Quests have become a lot more segmented and even mutually exclusive. In some cases, quests will be part of a multi-part quest series that puts events in motion to affect the story. Because there are factions, performing quests that appease one quest will cause other factions' quests to become unavailable, which is fine, but the game insists on telling you that you failed them. It's kind of depressing and shamefully reminds you that it's a reason to replay the game to take different paths. I played FO3 repeatedly to take different paths completely on my own because I wanted to see what I missed out on; I don't feel that way this time around. Then again, I have close to a dozen games that I haven't beaten (some I haven't even opened) on my shelf and I need to move on, but that didn't stop me from putting all that time into Fallout 3. Maybe the DLC will get me to start over completely.
As you can imagine, there's not a whole lot to do in the desert. There are a few settlements and outposts outside the strip, but the downtown area is the heart of the game and hosts the majority of the quests. That's certainly a convenience that keeps the player in the same immediate area, but when there's warp abilities, there's no harm in utilizing the entire map. Hopefully, the additonal content from DLC will take players farther out and encourage them to find those hidden treasures.
Sadly, one of the most addicting and engaging part of the game is gambling. Gambling is brought back from the original games and incorporated into the Vegas setting. There are casino hotels that serve as plot devices, containing several quests and plenty of interesting people. The only playable games are Blackjack, Roulette, and slot machines, all with $200 bet limits. Really, the only game you have any control over is Blackjack. You quickly get an idea of what hands to play and that that you might as well just bet max every time. And yes, you can save your game at any point, gamble, then reload your save if you lose. Gambling is unavailable for 60 seconds while "the dealer shuffles the cards" as an anti-cheat measure. Really, you can do this as much as you want to game the system, but this is probably the reason why there is a 1000 save limit on your install (across all characters, not 1000 per character). Of course, gambling is an easy way to get more money to spend on weapons and other items, so don't ignore it as superfluous. Each casino has a win limit, meaning you will be prevented from gambling there permanently once you bust the house (busting them all is an achievement). Does it 'make or break' the game? No, but it is easily the one thing I spent most of my time doing.
The game itself is fun and still worth the price tag (especially if you were able to get a holiday sale), but it seems like the lingering troubles are still costing gamers. The first DLC, entitled "Dead Money" was just released as a timed exclusive for XBOX, so PC and PS3 owners will need to wait for this one, and probably any future expansions. No word on how many expansions there will be, if it will match Bethesda's 5 for FO3, but I wouldn't expect too many. I wouldn't even recommend buying each one; rather, just wait until they're all out and buy them as a pack if possible or buy the GOTYE.
Note that this is not a Games For Windows Live game, meaning it does not connect to XBOX achievements on PC. FO3 did and players were able to apply their achievements to the console platform, even if they were cheating (for shame).
It has been only 9 short months, or long months for those of you waiting for the latest installment in the Call of Duty franchise, since the EA/DICE team put out a new game. They might as well have done it again. Battlefield Bad Company 2: Vietnam flew onto the scene like a Harrier jet carrying napalm; you barely know it’s coming until it hits and then it’s all over the place.
Two weeks ago the BFBC2: Vietnam add-on hit Xbox 360, PS3 and PC as an in-game Multiplayer DLC, which is purchasable through each platform’s EA Store. The add-on will cost the player $15 and contains 4 all new maps, 15 weapons and tools, 6 Vietnam-era vehicles and a 2 hour soundtrack that includes songs like Fortunate Son by CCR and Ride of the Valkyries. Also added, are new weapon specific achievements and trophies which will give Battlefield fans and new-comers alike something more to enjoy.
The game play from BFBC2 vanilla to the Vietnam add-on has not changed a bit. BFBC2 has taken the fast paced, “run and gun” style that everyone is used to from recent titles like Halo and Call of Duty, and slowed it down by placing players on bigger maps with more terrain and strategy. The 4 new maps that have been added, give players the feeling of running through a napalm-burned forest as the Viet-Cong or swooping down from the sky in a US Army Huey as you strafe opposing players as they run through a rice paddies. The nice thing about EA and DICE is that they have hidden a 5th map, Operation Hastings, in plain site. The only trick is how to unlock it. Players from each console must accrue a total of 69 million team based actions before the map is revealed in that console’s EA Store. This takes BFBC2’s squad based game system to a whole new level, global to be more accurate. Not surprisingly, it only took PC players less than 2 weeks to retrieve Operation Hastings. For a list of maps added, please read below.
- Hill 137 – a napalm stricken wasteland
- Vantage Point – a snipers paradise, for one side
- Phu Bai Valley – Rice paddies in the stereotypical Vietnam setting
- Cao Son Temple – River to jungle to ruined temple
- Operation Hastings – A revamped version of the old..
One major difference with this DLC from the full game is that all weapons and tools are unlocked right away. BFBC2 made you earn XP and level up all while unlocking guns, tools and add-ons with each level. After level 20 most players had everything unlocked. Vietnam allows you to use any of the weapons for your class right away. All 16 of the weapons are Vietnam era and the mechanics are spot on. When sniping, you are still required to judge distance, milling out your target, taking the shot and watching your round plunge into your target or drop short. While firing an LMG you have to use short controlled bursts or you will end up shooting at birds in the sky and the RPG is just as unruly a weapon as in real life. For a list of weapons and tools added by class, please read below.
- Assault Class: M16, AK-47, M14 and M79 Grenade Launcher
- Medic Class: M60, RPK and XM22
- Engineer Class: MAC10, PPSH, UZI and the RPG7
- Recon Class: M21, SVD and the M40
- All Classes: 870 Shotgun, M1 Garand, M1 Thompson, M2 Flamethrower, M1911 Pistol and the TT33 Pistol.
- Tools: Engineer Torch, Medic Syringe and Recon TNT
Vehicles maintain their Battlefield aesthetic with the same controls and the ability to be repaired as well as transport multiple troops. Tanks are a great way to control a major road way while a squad mate takes the Huey into the skies and opens up on enemies that are attempting to flank you. A couple extra vehicles have been added like a Jeep-style truck and the Minitruck, which will prove to either help your team or distract the other as they laugh at you riding around in a three wheeled ice cream truck. For a list of vehicles added, please read below.
- M48 “Patton” - US tank
- T54 - Russian tank
- Huey - US helicopter capable of transporting 5 soldiers including pilot
- Minitruck – Not recommended for combat but it will get you to wherever you need to go
- M15A – Jeep style transport vehicle, mounted with a .30 caliber gun
- GAZ69 – Russian transport truck mounted with a .30 caliber gun
- MKII – Military style river boat armed to the teeth with a .30 caliber gun and a grenade launcher
So have we seen this before? Yes, we have. In 2004, EA/DICE released a standalone game for the PC community known as Battlefield: Vietnam. For those of you that are familiar with the Battlefield series, Vietnam was just a new skin on an old favorite. No single player campaign per se, but multiplayer was there in all its glory. Listening to '60s tunes while cruising around in your Jeep was only part of it. Players were given the ability to fly jets and drop napalm on enemy players, transport players in Hueys and drive boats on Vietnamese rivers. The Operation Hastings map is a revamp of an old favorite from EA/DICE's first deployment into 'Nam. The weapons and vehicles have stayed the same, true to the time period, but the graphics have been upgraded to match that of todays top gaming equipment.
For most, this new addition to the Battlefield franchise will go unnoticed as many are still attempting to play a single match in the new Call of Duty title. As for those of us that have been devoted fans to the Battlefield franchise for a long time, Christmas (or what ever holiday you celebrate) came a couple days early this year. On the WorkinGamer scale of rating video games, I would give this a “Long Weekend.” For those of you who are not familiar with this rating system, that would be 4 out of 5 on a normal rating scale. Yes, I praised this add-on but keep in mind, this is only a multiplayer DLC. Though you can spend hours upon hours playing online, this adds nothing to the single player portion of the game. Download this at your own risk, and that risk would be your job. This DLC is worth its weight in cash and with all the new additions to the game, your near FPS future could use a little retro action reboot.