EA halting online support of 49 titles[pc] [ps2] [xbox] [xbox360] [psp]
Online support and functionality for 49 older EA-published titles on PC, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Xbox 360, and PSP is coming to a halt. The service for the games will be shut down in two waves, with support for one batch terminating on September 1 and the other on November 1, after which they will no longer be playable online.
Many of the titles on the full list, which includes EA Tiburon's Madden NFL 06 and the Xbox and PlayStation 2 editions of Criterion's Burnout Revenge, have been on the market for less than two years.
On the Xbox 360 front:
Track and Field crosses the finish line[xbox360]
Digital Eclipse's rendition of Konami's button mash-heavy Track and Field hits the Xbox 360's online Xbox Live Arcade Wednesday, August 8. As is expected, the 400 Microsoft Point ($5) game features both enhanced and original graphics, along with support for up to four players either locally or via Xbox Live.
Coming soon on XBLA[xbox360]
Microsoft issued a list of Xbox Live Arcade titles that set to arrive soon alongside "a few surprises." Slated to appear on the service in August are:
- Ecco the Dolphin (Sega)
- Hexic 2 (Carbonated Games)
- War World (Third Wave)
Meanwhile, the following are expected to hit "in the coming weeks":
- Geon: Emotions (Strawdog Studios)
- Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords (Infinite Interactive)
- Space Giraffe (Llamasoft)
- Streets of Rage 2 (Sega)
- Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (Backbone Entertainment, Capcom)
Quake Arena eventually headed to XBLA[xbox360]
Quake Arena is coming to Xbox Live Arcade under the title Quake Arena Arcade, id Software revealed at QuakeCon. No release date or further details were provided for the game, which is being developed by Pi Studios and id.
Skate demo sticks it in mid-August[xbox360]
A downloadable demo of EA Black Box's Skate will soon hit Xbox Live Marketplace. Containing a tutorial and several challenges set in the San Vanelona community center skate park, it arrives on August 15.
The full Xbox 360 edition of the game ships to retailers on September 12 in the US and September 14 in Europe. The PlayStation 3 version a few weeks down the line, hitting US retailers September 24 and those in Europe October 5.
Marathon: Durandal sizzles and fizzles[x360]
Freeverse's Xbox 360 port of Bungie's Marathon: Durandal brings the second of the Marathon trilogy to Xbox Live, and unsurprisingly, it plays like a first person shooter from 1995. Both enhanced and original graphics are available, and while the redrawn HD graphics look quite pretty, they also call attention to the game's poor animation.The lack of a jump button and the game's fast movement make for some odd moments, as players jump across gaps by just running across them and hoping to make it to the next ledge. Without being clearly and persistently marked on the map, the actual objectives in a level can be difficult to find--I walked past the necessary computer terminals in the first stage multiple times before I realized what they were.
That said, some credit should be given for the story-focused missions. Objectives range beyond the genre standard of "blow shit up," and the mythology-heavy briefings flesh out the reasoning behind them.
In all, Marathon: Duandal is an entertaining, if dated, throwback to 1995. Whether it's worth 800 Microsoft Points ($10) depends on how much you love the genre--it does feature online co-op and multiplayer, if that makes any difference--but I think I'll stick to more modern offerings.
Spyglass Board Games bores and disappoints[xbox360]
I have no idea why it took so long for chess, checkers, mancala, and reversi to show up on Xbox Live Arcade, but Strange Flavour and Freeverse have brought the classic games to the service for only 400 Microsoft Points ($5). Sadly, a few problems prevent Spyglass Board Games from realizing its true potential.
Most glaring of Spyglass Board Games' omissions is its lack of offline multiplayer. That's right, the games can only be played online, and for the life of me I can't figure out why there isn't some sort of local two-player option. With the turn-based nature of the games, I see absolutely no reason why a friend and I couldn't just pass a controller back and forth.
The other major problem is the abundance of players with lousy attitudes on Xbox Live. I ran into a few instances where my opponents opted to run down the clock instead of making their next move, simply because I was at an advantage.
I also found myself frustrated with the game's cumbersome controls, which forced me to manually move along each square or slot in the game. A setup similar to Sierra Online's Caracassone, which only lets you choose the possible placements of your current piece, would have been a much more efficient and streamlined solution.
Perhaps these issues can be addressed in a title update, but unless you've got a hankering to play against the computer or a bunch of your Xbox Live buddies have picked it up as well, I can't recommend Spyglass Board Games.
Other Xbox Live Marketplace downloads[xbox360]
- A demo of Koei Canada's futuristic racer Fatal Inertia hit Xbox Live Marketplace. Powered by Epic's Unreal Engine 3, the game is slated to hit arrive in stores this September.
- Two packs of downloadable content for Turn 10's Xbox 360 racing simulator Forza Motorsport 2 arrived on Xbox Live Marketplace. The free Nisson Tournament Pack contains the 2007 Nissan Altima, Sentra, and 350Z. The 50 Microsoft Point ($0.62) Peugeot 908, meanwhile, adds a virtual rendition of the vehicle that placed second in the latest 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance challenge.
- Even more 80 Microsoft Point ($1) costumes are up for players of Yuke's Media Creations' Rumble Roses XX, providing five new outfits for SS Dixies, SS Makoto, and SS Reiko.
Turn the page for the latest PlayStation Network news and downloads, this week's Virtual Console offerings, plus the latest in PC mods and patches._PAGE_BREAK_
In the world of PlayStation 3:
Warhawk goes gold[ps3]
Incognito's multiplayer-only PlayStation 3 multi-modal combat title Warhawk has gone gold, meaning that it is complete and entered the manufacturing process.
Warhawk will be available to purchase and download from the PlayStation Store on August 28 for $39.99. A retail version ships to stores the same day, bundled with a Jabra Bluetooth headset for $59.99.
Blast Factor add-on, new demos for PlayStation Store[ps3]
An add-on for Bluepoint Games' downloadable arcade shooter Blast Factor appeared in the PlayStation 3's online PlayStation Store. Dubbed Advanced Research, the expansion adds 11 enemies, seven specimens, seven bosses, and seven music tracks to the game for $4.99.
Also new to the online store were demos of Starbreeze's comic-inspired first person shooter The Darkness and Ubisoft Paris and Red Storm Entertainment's tactical military FPS Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2.
In the foreign market, the online add-on for Namco Bandai's Tekken 5: Dark Ressurection was released in Japan and Hong Kong's regional PlayStation Store. A North American release, which the company previously confirmed, is expected in the coming weeks.
This week on Virtual Console[wii]
Nintendo's online Wii Virtual Console gets wet and wild with chivalrous fuzzballs and space aliens this week, adding Nintendo EAD's Wave Race 64, HAL Laboratory's NES adventure-puzzle hybrid Adventures of Lolo, and Namco's TurboGrafx-16 arcade update Galaga '90 to the service. For more deatils on the games, including pricing information, check out our initial coverage.
Check back later in the week for the Shack staff's thoughts on recent Virtual Console releases. While you're waiting, feel free to glance through our past VC reviews.
id and Steam team[pc]
Nearly every single id Software game--including five Commander Keen titles, the entire Doom series, Quake through Quake 3, and more--is now available on Valve's Steam digital distribution platform. While the games sell individually and in various series-themed packages, the id Super Pack bundles all of the company's Steam offerings, which would individually sell for $213.90, at the ridiculously low price of $69.95.
To celebrate id's support of Steam, all the id games and bundles on the service are discounted by 10% until August 10.
Quake Zero promises free Quake action[pc]
id Software announced its plans to create a free and slightly updated version of the multiplayer-focused Quake 3. Titled Quake Zero and developed by the company's still-forming second team, the ad-supported game will run in both PC and Mac web browsers.
Galactica meets FreeSpace 2 in Beyond the Red Line[pc]
Thanks to a clause in the FreeSpace 2 licensing agreement, a standalone demo of the Battlestar Galactica-inspired FreeSpace 2 mod Beyond the Red Line is available at FileShack. While it's downloading, be sure to check out the Shack's interview with the Beyond the Red Line team.
Rumble Fighter freely dukes it out[pc]
OGPlanet's free online brawler Rumble Fighter can be found at FileShack. Permitting up to 8 players to beat the crap out of each other with a number of combos and counterattacks, the game also grants players the option to transform and gain new abilities via the ExoCore skill system.
The week in patches[pc]
- Loki (Cyanide Studios) 1.0.6 patch
- Overlord (Triumph Studio) 1.2 patch
Meanwhile, on Wii:
Elsewhere, in PC land: