Weekly Download Rundown

Tons of news and lots of impressions this week, so let's get this thing started.

Multiplatform:

  • Lost Planet, new updates and free content

    [xbox360] [PC]

    Capcom detailed the latest updates for the PC and Xbox 360 versions of its Starship Troopers-esque crusade against giant bugs, Lost Planet. Made available as an automatic download from within the game last week, the latest patch for the recently-released PC edition adds several new characters--Dead Rising's Frank West, the iconic Mega Man, and supporting Lost Planet cast member Joe--and camera angles, including an over-the-shoulder view similar to that of Capcom's Resident Evil 4 (PC, PS2, Wii, GCN) along with an option for a wider view of the action. Other changes involve a list of connected players to multiplayer and a movie mode that allows players to rewatch the numerous in-game cinematics.

    In addition to the patch, Capcom released the first PC map pack, a free download that combines the first two Xbox 360 map packs, bringing four additional maps to the game.

    Speaking of the Xbox 360 version, the first two map packs were repriced as free downloads from Xbox Live Marketplace. An automatic update, said to address connection issues, is slated to hit by the end of the month.

  • Glimpse echochrome with OLE Coordinate System

    [ps3] [pc]

    One of the biggest surprises of E3 was Sony Computer Entertainment's announcement of SCE Japan Studio's echochrome, a simplistic puzzle game centered around using select camera angles to obscure obstacles and create new pathways. Set to arrive on PlayStation 3 as a downloadable PlayStation Network title and PSP in UMD form, the game's exact release date has yet to be pinned down.

    However, players can get a taste of the distinctive title, which is based on Jun Fujiki's PC freeware OLE Coordinate System. More a proof of concept than anything else, the download allows users to create their own levels, with the ability to place the simplistic black-and-white characters and items. Only one pre-made map is included, brought up by pressing F2 in the editor, and it has no clear starting point or objective.

    While OLE Coordinate System may not contain much in the way of actual gameplay, it provides an interesting glimpse into the methods behind the tricky puzzles eventually headed to the PSP and PS3. For more on OLE Coordinate System, including the editor itself, check out Jun Fujiki's official site.

    Note: If the editor demands d3dx9_25.dll, it can be found at m3fe.com.

  • On the Xbox 360 front:

  • Super Contra, Wing Commander Arena assault XBLA

    [xbox360]

    Xbox Live Arcade will gain two more titles Wednesday July 24 with the simultaneous release of Electronic Arts and Gaia Industries' Wing Commander Arena and Digital Eclipse's updated version of Konami's Super Contra.

    Priced at 800 Microsoft Points ($10), Wing Commander Arena is the first Xbox Live Arcade game to offer to 16-person online multiplayer over Xbox Live. Unlike past Wing Commander titles, which have been 3D space combat simulators, Arena is a top-down 2D space shooter. It includes nine maps, a single player campaign, and three different multiplayer modes: team, free for all, and duel. Be sure to read Chris Remo's hands-on preview for more.

    Super Contra, meanwhile, is a port of Konami's 1987 arcade shooter. As has become standard with Xbox Live Arcade renditions of popular retro titles, the game will allow players to choose between the original graphics and a smoother, redrawn look. Selling for 400 Microsoft Points ($5), Super Contra supports both local and online two player co-op.

  • Bomberman dominates social gatherings, Live Arcade

    [x360]

    One of last week's two Xbox Live Arcade releases, Bomberman Live from developer Backbone Vancouver and publisher Hudson Entertainment ranks as one of the most entertaining multiplayer games on the system. The premise--blow up your enemies without getting caught in any of the resulting blasts while collecting power-ups to increase the amount and power of your bombs--is simple. As most gamers know, where the series shines is multiplayer.

    When I played Bomberman Live with a few friends, everything clicked. The social element of bringing two or more human players to the mix made for all the difference in the world. Now the competition was personal, I was racing to get to that power-up before my friend did, and the humiliation of getting trapped in my own blast was that much worse. Fortunately, the premise and the one-button controls are so simple that almost anyone can play, even those who don't often dabble in multiplayer gaming.

    Oodles of customization options help to keep the game from going stale, permitting players to customize everything from their appearance to which items appear in a match to whether or not dead players can toss bombs from the sidelines. Multiple maps offer different twists, from quicksand that temporarily cements a player in place to arrows that send bombs flying across the map.

    The number of gameplay modes help keep things fresh as well, with my personal favorite being the unpredictable Zombie. Here, players "paint" a tile with each explosion, and whoever has the most tiles at the end wins. The twist is that players don't die when hit by a blast. Instead, they lose all their tiles and their power-ups are scattered throughout the map, which creates a mad dash for power-ups and a complete chaos as players run around the map trying to lay as many bombs as quickly as possible.

    I can't say enough nice things about Bomberman Live, especially since it features four player offline multiplayer and eight player matches across Xbox Live, with up to four players able to play online from each Xbox 360 console. It is a must-have for muliplayer gatherings and well worth the asking price of 800 Microsoft Points ($10).

  • Yie Ar Kung-Fu kung-flops

    [xbox360]

    Whereas Bomberman Live serves as a shining example of what Xbox Live Arcade can bring to the table, Digital Eclipse's edition of Konami's arcade fighter Yie Ar Kung-Fu is one of those titles that will only be spoken of in hushed, shameful tones. The 400 Microsoft Point ($5) game attempts to recreate the crazy action of an epic kung-fu brawl. Instead, it only frustrates.

    The problems stem from the control scheme, which encourages players to hop around the screen as the main character walks rather slowly. However, the scope of a player's jump is predetermined, making it quite difficult to, say, skillfully land next to an opponent and beat the crap out of him. Not being able to accurately and deliberately position the on-screen character completely ruins the otherwise average game.

  • Help choose SSFIIHDR achievements

    [xbox360]

    Capcom is running a contest that gives folks a chance to provide their input on the Xbox 360 achievement list for Backbone Entertainment's upcoming Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (PS3, X360). Gamers are asked to post their suggestions in the comments section of the Capcom Digital blog by August 1. Once the Capcom staff goes through the overall list, the public will once again be able to give their input by voting on the choices at the official Street Fighter forums.

  • Other Xbox 360 downloads

    [xbox360]

    - Developer Starbreeze Studios and publisher 2K Games have released a free demo of comic book-inspired first person shooter The Darkness on Xbox Live Marketplace.

    - Import racing fans can get an advance look at Juice Game's THQ-published Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights with the demo available for download from Xbox Live Marketplace.

    - NASCAR fans, meanwhile, can get their racing fix as well thanks to the free demo of EA Tiburon's NASCAR 08.

    - A demo of Visual Concept's anticipated return to the football genre, All-Pro Football 2K8, can be found on Xbox Live Marketplace. In related news, owners of the full game can purchase the 2K ReelMaker replay editor for 400 Microsoft Points ($5).

    - Another map pack for Day 1 Studios' Xbox 360 edition of Monolith's first person shooter F.E.A.R. has been added to Xbox Live Marketplace. Known as the Synchronicity Pack, it adds five more maps for 550 Microsoft Points ($6.87).

    - More costumes are available for the sultry girls of Yuke's Media Creations' Rumble Roses XX. Priced at 80 Microsoft Points ($1) a pop, the latest offerings include five new looks for Candy, Dixie, and Aigle.

Turn the page for the latest on PlayStation 3 system updates and PlayStation Store offerings, this week's Wii Virtual Console releases, and a hearty list of recent PC mods and patches.

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    In the world of PlayStation 3:

  • Heavenly Sword demo hits this week

    [ps3]

    A demo of Ninja Theory's Heavenly Sword is headed to the North American PlayStation Store this Thursday, July 26. In the meantime, check out our two hands-on previews of the game, one from yours truly and the other by Shack editor Carlos Bergfeld.

  • New firmware brings custom wallpapers to PS3

    [ps3]

    The latest system update for the PlayStation 3 brings the console's firmware up to version 1.90, adding the option to customize the background of the main system menu. The new version also allows users to arrange downloaded content by creation date and format, toggle display settings while watching a movie, use emoticons when sending messages to other PlayStation 3, and eject discs from the Triangle menu. PlayStation 3 owners can download the update from the PlayStation Network by following the instructions that appear after connecting or by downloading it from the official PlayStation website

  • Symphony of the Night seduces PS3, PSP

    [ps3] [psp]

    Konami's classic 2D PlayStation side scrolling adventure Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was added to the PlayStation 3's online PlayStation Store. Whereas most original PlayStation titles on the service sell for $5.99, Symphony of the Night is priced at $9.99, only one cent less than the Xbox Live Arcade port that arrived from Digital Eclipse in March.

    Once downloaded from the PlayStation Store, players will be able to play the title on either their PlayStation 3 or PSP systems. A retranslated version of the game will be available on PSP later this year as part of Konami's Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles.
  • Meanwhile, on Wii:

  • This week on Virtual Console

    [wii]

    Three more titles have arrived on Wii's Virtual Console, expanding the service with more pinball, more golf, and more old-school RPG goodness.

    The pinballing Devil's Crush, from developer NAXAT Soft, sells for 600 Wii Points ($6). It is the company's followup to Alien Crush, which was released on the service in December.

    On the RPG front is Clmax Entertainment's Genesis RPG Shining Force, priced at 800 Wii Points ($8). HAL Laboratory's isometric SNES golfer Kirby's Dream Course also hit the service, causing Shacknews editor Nick Breckon much joy. Creampuff golf, as it has been dubbed around the office, will set you back 800 Wii Points ($8).

    Keep an eye out as the Shack staff begins to tackle the last three weeks of Virtual Console releases in the greatest undertaking since its E3 coverage. For more on Virtual Console, be sure to check out the Shack staff's past Virtual Console reviews.

  • Elsewhere, in PC land:

  • Gish sticks it to Steam

    [pc]

    Independent developer Chrono Logic's sticky physics-based platformer Gish debuted on Valve's Steam digital distribution service last week, selling for the temporarily discounted price of $7.95.

  • Recent mod releases

    [pc]

    - Version 0.6 of the Battlefield 2 mod Project Reality has been released by the Project Reality and Black Sand Studios teams. Check the official site for more details on the realistic combat mod, which can be found at FileShack.

    - The Command and Conquer: All Stars crew have released version 1.0 of their total conversion mod for Command & Conquer: Generals Zero Hour. Hit FileShack to snag the mod, which pits factions, units, and weapons from past Command & Conquer games against another.

    - Team Unpfhorgiven has completed its work on Marathon: Resurrection 2.0, an Unreal Tournament mod that recreates both the single and multi-player aspects of Bungie's original Marathon in the Unreal engine. Snag it at FileShack.

    - Pandora Studio updated its round-based tactical shooter Unreal Tournament 2004 mod Frag.Ops to version 2.2, featuring enhanced functionality, such as dual-team objective setups, and optimized net code among its many tweaks. The official site has the full changelog for the mod, which is up on FileShack.

  • The week in patches

    [pc]

    - Air Assault Task Force (Shrapnel Games) 1.02 patch

    - Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars (EA Los Angeles) 1.06 patch (English, French, German - Kane, German - Standard)

    - DiRT (Codemasters) 1.2 patch

    - For Liberty (Hussar Games) 1.80 patch

    - Sid Meier's Civilization IV (Firaxis Games) 1.74 patch

    - Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword (Firaxis Games) 3.02 patch

    - Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Warlords (Firaxis Games) 2.13 patch

    - Space Empires V (Malfador Machinations) 1.44 patch

    - Test Drive Unlimited (Atari) 1.66A patch. Adds two new cars, the Audi RS4 and Nissan Skyline R34.

    - Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 (GRIN, Red Storm Entertainment) 1.02 patch (1.00 to 1.02, 1.01 to 1.02)

    - Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas (Ubisoft Montreal) 1.05 patch

    - Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines (Troika) Unofficial 3.9 patch by Werner Spahl