You can start the five-hour Citadel storyline at any time after the Cerberus coup during Mass Effect 3’s campaign, but it’s best saved until the last possible moment. The final chunk of Mass Effect 3 DLC doesn’t try to expand the universe or add extra dimensions to Shepard’s mission to destroy the Reapers – it’s a sweet, funny goodbye hug for long-term fans of the series.
I didn't really have a problem with the ending of Mass Effect 3. There, I said it. I'd even go so far as to say that after the Extended Cut it's actually pretty good, with some caveats. No grand thesis, no conspiracy. My five-year love affair with BioWare's space adventure ended in a way that I was okay with. Feel free to savage me in the comments, guys. I'm right here. I regret nothing.
Battlefield 3: Ramps of WAR would be a better title for the final expansion pack. It adds a new AA vehicle, capture the flag, jumpy dirt bikes and four quite large new maps. "They are comparable to Caspian Border and Operation Firestorm from the base game" say DICE in the latest post on the Battlefield blog. Expect to hit conveniently collapsed bridges/angled stone slabs for massive air across desert, arctic and alpine locales. Spy them for yourself in the new screenshots below.
SimCity's second closed beta will go live next Saturday February 16 at 2PM GMT, offering an "enhanced version" of the one hour trial we got a couple of weeks ago. You can sign up for a chance to participate now on the SimCity beta page, though you'll have to do that before Monday to have a chance.
Planning on buying SimCity? How would you like to pay more for the same game? Well, the limited edition will give you that opportunity, but Maxis have thrown in the Heroes and Villains set to make it a bit more tempting. That'll let you introduce superheroes and super villains into your towns, though when I played it I polluted my town to the extent that most of my citizens deduced that I was a super-villain so I CRUSHED THEM. None shall defy the might of the Mayorinator.
In interviews I've found that some designers are a little reluctant to talk about the nitty gritty of their day to day work, perhaps because from their perspective talking about meetings and workflow doesn't seem interesting. The actual block-by-block process of putting a big game together often goes undiscussed, and the hard work that goes into making games passes unseen.
All of which makes David Gaider's account of writing on a big project at Bioware especially interesting. He details the entire process in a series of articles on his blog, communicating the ups and downs of life in the "Writer's Pit," as they call it. It's illuminating, full of advice and offers neat insights into the sort of arguments and exchanges that ring through the corridors of Bioware Edmonton as the production cycle picks up.
Crysis' bionic being of pure muscle shoots men back to life in the latest Crysis 3 trailer, which shows a killing spree in reverse for no good reason beyond the fact that it looks funny when he un-kicks a confused guard onto a ledge. If time reversal is a new suit power, Crytek haven't mentioned it, though I imagine a bit of backwards bullet time would be pretty useful if you'd just fluffed an action scene by farting or falling over. Not that that proved any help at all to Chris Martin in Coldplay's 2002 video for The Scientist - a tragic short film about a man who crashes in Grid but lacks the flashbacks to save his girlfriend from death :(
Crysis 3 is out on February 19 in the US, February 21 in Europe and Australia, and March 7 in Japan. Trailer follows.
Battlefield 3's fifth expansion will be all about speed, according to information on CVG. They report that the four new maps added in End Game will host three new vehicles (including a dirt bike) and a drop ship that "provides support to ground troops with vehicle drop capabilities." That extra pace should prove useful in the returning Capture The Flag mode. I'm looking forward to seeing the ensuing silliness rendered in Battlefield 3's ultra-gritty environments.
The gutted interior of a tower in Tehran's financial district and the shattered remains of a parliament building are two spectacles talked about but not shown in the latest Aftermath footage. We do get descriptions of the four new maps, however, which include "devastated financial district map Markaz Monolith, the heavily destroyed Epicentre map, the Talah market map, which is a mix of the old and the new architecture of the city, and finally Azadi Palace, a huge urban landscape with a massive parliament building at its core." Catch new moving pictures of dusty tussles in Tehran's tattered streets below.
EA Games VP Patrick Soderlund has been talking to OXM about the various projects underway at DICE right now, and it sounds like there's more going on beyond Battlefield 3 DLC and Battlefield 4. "The DICE guys are roughly 300 people in the Stockholm studio," said Soderlund. "Not all of them are working on Battlefield things, and that's intentional, because we don't want to become a Battlefield factory."
"The minute we start saying 'you're going to make a Battlefield game for the rest of your life', they're going to go some place else," he added. "So for them to make great Battlefield games there need to be other things for them to do as well. That's why we have people who move around quite a bit.
Update: Regarding those other projects, "Mirror's Edge 2 is in production at DICE," says former Battlefield producer Ben Cousins in a tweet spotted by PCGamesN, a fact that is supposedly "general knowledge in the Stockholm dev scene."
Executive producer of the Mass Effect series, Casey Hudson, has been asking fans where they'd like to see Mass Effect go next. "Parsing through your thoughts on the next #ME game," said Casey in a tweet spotted by Eurogamer, "Would you be more interested in a game that takes place before the trilogy, or after?" AFTER. No, wait. BEFORE. No wait, I DON'T CARE JUST LET ME BE A KROGAN.
We've seen parts of Battlefield 3's forthcoming Aftermath DLC before now, but this is our first proper glimpse of the Epicentre map that seems to be the focal point of the expansion. Level artist Pontus Ryman took to the Battlefield blog (hereafter referred to as the 'battleblog') to talk about the map, in a post that included a long, lingering flythrough of Epicentre itself.
Crossbows are coming to Battlefield 3 in the next expansion, Aftermath. A new post on the Battlefield blog outlines the strengths and weaknesses of the new weapon, which has the power to both kill silently and blow holes in walls thanks to multiple bolts ammo types.
Standard bolts can kill at medium at short range, balanced bolts can kill at long range, scan bolts highlight enemies within a 10 meter radius of the impact site and explosive bolts create a small C4 explosion at the point of contact. You can switch between ammo types "on the fly."
If you like Battlefield 3, or war movies, or just explosions then you should definitely take a look at the five minute "Moments" machinima for Battlefield 3. It creator Robert Stoneman one week to make with help from 15 in-game stuntmen. See quadbikes speeding backwards over the dunes of Bandar Desert, see jets duelling over the Alborz and see what happens when a tank lands on top of a low-flying chopper. I don't know about you, but this is one of the slickest Machinima vids I've seen in a while.
On a post at the Mordor HQ forums, spotted by PCGamesN, DICE staffer Mikael Kalms has reversed a previous statement that DICE would allow players to turn off the colour-grading which gives Battlefield its muted, cold aesthetic.
So, here we go again. The saga began when devs suggested that modders trying to alter the colour palette of the game might inadvertently fall foul of anti-cheat measures and find themselves banned from the game. The ensuing outcry led DICE to suggest it would implement such an option with the next patch of the game. But now it seems the company has thought better of that, with Kalms reproducing an official statement saying, "we are proud of the visual identity of Battlefield 3 and do not wish to change it."
Day one patches are sometimes used to circumvent disk deadlines, giving developers the opportunity to keep fixing things right up to launch day. If a game has to be shipped but isn't entirely polished yet, a day one fix can do the trick. Medal of Honor's birthday update is particularly essential. It adds "new features" like to the ability to "add friends and join parties while in-game." It also fixes weapon bugs like a classic "very exploitable" no-scope bug and changes the VOIP team channel so that it "no longer includes players from the other team." Hmmm.
DICE retreat from BF3's war on colours by adding 'disable colour grading' option [Update: nope, changed their minds]
Colour-tweaking mods have become fairly popular over the last few years, as visual filters degrade what could be beautiful environments for the sake of authenticity or style. In a game like Fallout, rectifying the game's very green visuals is as simple as installing the Fellout mod; try that in Battlefield 3 and you risk having your account banned, over fears that it gives an unfair advantage. Well, DICE have finally seen sense, revealing that the game's next update will add "a console command for disabling the color grading entirely in the game", meaning that such mods should now be unnecessary.
Bioware have been talking about Dragon Age 3: Inquisition at the Edmonton Comic and Entertainment Expo over the weekend, as spotted by Kotaku and live tweeted by Dragon Age 3 producer Cameron Lee. The panellists revealed that we will definitely play as a human in Inquisition. "Backgrounds will be in DA3 even though you will be human," Lee tweets, "it's not playable but it does significant impact on the story."
Creative director Mike Laidlaw also suggested that we'll get our own castle, shown in the concept art above. Two other pieces of concept art were put up, showing an open plain and some overgrown ruins. Cinematic designer Jon Perry said that "one level in Dragon Age 3 is as big as all of the levels in Dragon Age 2." Check out the concept art below for an idea of how those environments are shaping up.
The problem with reviewing a game like FIFA 13 is that you end up writing notes like ‘the physicality is less predictable’ which, when you take a step away from the context of an iterative virtual sports title, make a kind of negative sense that could potentially be weaponised and deployed as part of a disruptive first strike invasion scenario.
Each chunk of Battlefield 3 DLC has had its own flavour, so far. Back to Karkand was a dusty payload of retro maps reforged in a cutting edge engine, Close Quarters focused on tight maps that delivered fast, accessible scraps. Armoured Kill was expansive and full of tanks. What will Aftermath be?
After the debut trailer, it's hard to say. It's set in ruined, post-quake Iran, but the prospect of more maps set in crumbling yellow streets doesn't especially sell it. There are scoped crossbows, though, which could deliver a quieter, deadlier alternative to a silenced pistol at medium range. The interesting moment comes just before the logo break, which suggests that we might have to contend with mid-match earthquakes. Now that sounds interesting.
Star Wars: The Old Republic is going free to play "later this fall." As you might expect, there will be considerable restrictions placed on players enjoying the free version. Good news: all story missions for all classes will be free. Less good news: if you want to run more than three PvP warzone sessions a week, gain rewards for more than three flashpoints per week, have more than one crew skill or revive more than five times in the field, you'll have to buy Cartel Coins. These can be spent on weekly passes to remove flashpoint and Operation restrictions, or you can blow them on new gear customisation options.