Alien: Isolation's pre-order reward is two bonus missions based on scenes from the original film. Since learning of those missions, fans have been in an increasingly sickly state—made weak by the conflict between desirable extras and sensible pre-order scepticism. Now, bursting explosively from their chests, is the information that those missions—which feature original cast members reprising their roles—will also be released as DLC, to be made available after the game's launch.
Alien: Isolation was always essentially Alien: The Video Game in my mind, with its slavish reproduction of that film's technology, its sets, and the pre-Cameronised alien that hadn't yet been robbed of its near-indestructibility in the 1986 sequel. The news that Creative Assembly and Sega have gone full Alien and announced two bonus missions based on the original movie, and featuring the original cast, should make me very happy indeed—but it's been handled in just about the worst possible way. Those two missions—Crew Expendable and Last Survivor, detailed below—have been earmarked as pre-order DLC. You'll get the first one along with some other stuff simply by pre-ordering the game, but to get both you'll need to pre-order from "select retailers", which haven't been announced yet.
Here's a little known E3 fact for you. Every year, E3's organisers set quantum explosives underneath the show floor. If the games industry goes for more than one hour without releasing a new trailer, it detonates, trapping us all in a never-ending press conference hosted by the demonic amalgamation of all publishing executives. Thank goodness Creative Assembly had this Alien: Isolation trailer to hand.
In a startling break with standard practice, it seems Sega has taken to announcing the release dates of AAA games on a Saturday. This way lies madness, friends. What next, Half-Life 3 confirmed on Christmas Eve. Anyway. Alien: Isolation. October 7th.
Like a fine HBO drama, this trailer for Total War: Rome 2's upcoming Hannibal at the Gates DLC is deceptive about its charms. Sure, it looks like you'll be watching for the rousing rhetoric of arch-enemies Scipio and Hannibal. In reality, there are more carnal pleasures buried within. No, not naked people - you really have been watching too much HBO - but elephants! For a glorious few seconds you can watch them bash up soldiers like the armoured meat-sacks they are.
It seems like many of Total War: Rome 2's pre-launch updates have been of the "oh no, why is everything on fire?" variety. If that fire hasn't entirely been quelled, it is at least only lightly smouldering now. Hence this latest update, which focuses on features: specifically, elephants. A new African elephant model has been introduced to complement the pre-existing Indian elephants, allowing for more geographically appropriate elephantidae placement.
There are lessons to be learned from sci-fi movies. Mostly they're lessons regarding AI and robots (ones that Google seem determined to ignore), but we can also pick up a few tricks from space-based sci-fi horrors. For instance, always bring more electricians than you technically need. The lights are always the first things to go. Also, take plenty of janitors, because - as these new Alien: Isolation screenshots prove - things are going to get pretty messy.
When it comes to these iteratively improving patches, the change-lists can bleed into one big mass of "everything is better this time, again". Patch 9 for Total War: Rome 2 targets improvements to "performance, unit behaviours, unit balancing and much more," which seems suspiciously familiar to the summary of every patch that came before. Skim over the lengthy details, though, and you'll see that this is a substantial and wide-ranging update.
There are plenty of performance updates, targeting campaign performance and battle-screen framerates. The AI has received plenty of tweaks too, with pathfinding and battle logic seemingly the focus of CA's tinkering. Also in the patch notes... well, a bit of everything really.
Total War: Rome 2 has had Steam Workshop support since last October, but mod-makers have had to cobble together their tweaks and edits through community made tools, bits of string and frequent swearing. Now, though, Creative Assembly are providing their Assembly Kit as an open beta to community creators, giving them the chance to try out the official suite of tools before their upcoming full release.
Xenomorphs perfectly follow the theory of the Conservation of Ninjutsu. Hopefully, that rule also applies to the quality of a game. Aliens: Colonial Marines featured many aliens and was rubbish. Creative Assembly's now officially announced Alien: Isolation features just one of the sleek, obsidian terrors, in a game that's more stealth survival than sci-fi action. Will it be good? When Chris came back from playing the game, he was whisked away to an isolation chamber. Through the bloodied notes we found lining the corridors, we've assembled his impressions into a hands-on preview.
You'll play as Ripley's daughter Amanda, who sets out in search of her mother, and instead ends up in the deadliest game of hide & seek. It's like a family tradition at this point. But... wait a second, where did everybody go? Oh no, the horror! A TV Tropes link was hiding in the first line. For the few of you that remain: journey on and witness the game's two announcement trailers.
If nothing else, you've got to admire the Roman work ethic. Want to be adored by the people? Start a war. Want to relieve the boredom of politics? Start a long war. Want to get more glory than a rival? Start a war before them. As shown by this launch trailer for Total War: Rome 2's now available Caesar in Gaul expansion, the new campaign you'll be fighting through is largely being fought because Rome really wanted some more war.
That Caesar, he did get up to some japes. He created political triumvirates, aggravated the stoic Cato, got up to all sorts with Cleopatra, and generally behaved like a proper scamp. On top of that was all the conquering that he did, and it's for this reason that he's the titular star of Total War: Rome 2's first campaign expansion, Caesar in Gaul.
The expansion will focus in greater detail on Gaul and south Brittania, with this smaller area balanced by a shorter timeframe. Inspired by Caesar’s war diaries from the era, players will be able to play as the Gallic Arverni, the Germanic Suebi, the Belgic Nervii and Rome.
These kids with their hip new terms. Creative Assembly have announced that Total War: Rome 2 will be "coming to SteamOS". Which is a fairly torturous way of saying that Total War: Rome 2 will be coming to Linux. Which it will, because SteamOS is Linux.
The reason for specifically name-checking Steam's upcoming OS is because CA seem keen to tout the game's move to conquer the living room, with planned support for Big Picture mode and the Steam Controller. After all, as Ceasar himself once said, "I came, I saw, I lounged lazily in my pants, eating crisps and moving tiny generals around a campaign map."
Creative Assembly were clearly worried that Total War: Rome 2's battles were too mild-mannered and sedate. And so, as with Shogun 2 before it, they've released the "Blood & Gore" DLC pack, which amps up the violence to its most absurd setting. Whether its worth the £2/$3 for what is essentially a superfluous graphics tweak is something you'll need to decide for yourself. All I know is that the screenshots which released alongside it are ridiculously, hilariously over-the-top.
Total War: Rome 2's latest patch has a couple of welcome surprises, in addition to the usual bug fixes and the like. Surprise the first is support for Valve's handy Steam Workshop, making it easier to find and install the game's burgeoning assortment of mods. Surprise the second? Well it's a brand new faction, the Seleucid Empire, who were apparently quite good at city building and engineering. Also, one would presume, killing.
The thing about games is that sometimes they lock up when loading into battle with DirectX 9, or report the wrong per-frame time in the Graphics Benchmark frame rate display. Honestly, I don't know why we put up with them. Actually, wait, it's because they're brilliant. Even better, they can be fixed. Total War: Rome 2's third patch, announced last week, is now live, and offers technical and performance fixes, along with balance changes, and improvements to usability and the general game.
The republic of Creative Assembly continue to work on the list of complaints presented to them by agitated gamers after the launch of Total War: Rome 2. Much like last time, Patch 3 makes changes throughout the game, focusing on key weaknesses in the formation, including performance and AI tweaks. CA have also focused fire on multiplayer, and claim to have significantly improved the online campaign speed, which will now be determined by the slowest player's machine. Patch 3 is currently in beta, and can be applied through the game's Steam properties menu. A general release should come later this week. You can see the full changelist inside.
Friends! Romans! PC gamers! Want a free copy of Total War: Rome II—and a beefy new gaming PC to play it on? We're giving away a Digital Storm Bolt PC and a copy of Creative Assembly's newest strategy game to one lucky reader.
Total War: Rome 2 came out last week, but though it was just short of greatness, it has also had a bit of a rough launch. Some players have been unable to login and others are reporting game-crashing bugs. Now Total War creative director Mike Simpson has posted to the game's forums to apologize and lay out the plan for the next few weeks.