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Updated: 34 min 50 sec ago

I looked and looked but games were bizarrely absent from the Barbican's new AI exhibition

36 min 22 sec ago

I popped into London's Barbican Centre last week to see the new exhibition about artificial intelligence - AI: More than Human, it's called. I considered myself peak target audience, not because I've read a couple of Isaac Asimov stories and not because I've seen Deus Ex: Machina, although that was a good film - Poe was great wasn't he? It's not because I'm a particular AI geek at all. It's because of video games.

We hear about AI in the games world all the time. Every year, it seems like we're being promised the most realistic villagers ever, or the cleverest footballing opponents, or the most aggressive baddies with guns. "They will learn and adapt to your style of play!" God, how many times have we heard that? So when I walked into the Barbican exhibition, I expected video games to be everywhere.

And I looked. And I looked. But I couldn't find them.

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Categories: Video Games

Star Citizen's latest update aims to bring law and order to the galaxy

9 hours 3 min ago

Star Citizen's next milestone update has arrived, bringing the controversial space sim up to its alpha 3.6 release. Headline additions this time around include a complete law and order overhaul designed to make life a little tougher for those ne'er-do-wells among the stars.

Essentially, as a pilot's criminal record (or crime stat in Star Citizen parlance) increases, they'll encounter greater opposition from AI law enforcement and bounty hunters, and will find themselves more likely to be attacked and pursued.

Newly implemented regional jurisdictions have their own patrolling security forces, as well as their own lists of controlled substances. Security forces will immediately open fire on known felons or those in a stolen ship, but will merely demand a stop-and-scan on other vessels. Those that refuse to comply will gain a crime stat and be attacked, while those found with illegal goods onboard will be fined and have their goods removed.

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Categories: Video Games

Overwatch's next hero is "eccentric astrophysicist" Sigma

Mon, 22/07/2019 - 21:41

Just shy of five months after the reveal of Overwatch's 30th hero, medic Baptiste, Blizzard is ready to do it all over again, with a first look at hero 31 - "eccentric astrophysicist" Sigma.

It was clear something was afoot this weekend, when the official Overwatch Twitter account posted a strange video in which game director Jeff Kaplan was seemingly sucked into a black hole. A haunting piano ditty and many mysterious equations ensued.

That, we now know, was all a pre-amble for hero 31's official unveiling, with Blizzard having now released a two-minute origin story for Sigma. It's certainly not the most conventional reveal, with the narrative, such as it is, hopping back and forth through time to convey Sigma's fragile mental state - a result of a disastrous experiment to harness the power of a black hole.

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Categories: Video Games

It looks like Anthem's long-awaited Cataclysm event is finally almost here

Mon, 22/07/2019 - 19:17

It's been a long old wait for Anthem players hoping to catch a glimpse of significant new content in BioWare's much-maligned shooter. Now, however, a sudden flurry of in-game activity suggests that its much-hyped Cataclysm event may finally be about to unfold.

Cataclysm, you might recall, was trumpeted as one of Anthem's defining post-launch features prior to release, with BioWare promising a "massive, world-changing" event full of stormy weather and the game's "most ambitious and challenging content". Exactly five months after the release of Anthem, however, Cataclysm is still yet to arrive in the live game.

That's not to say we don't know what to expect from the eight-week long event, of course; BioWare held a fairly extensive unveiling back in May, and curious sorts have intermittently been able to experience some of its innards since June, via the game's Public Test Server.

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Categories: Video Games

Nintendo faces Switch Joy-Con drift class action lawsuit

Mon, 22/07/2019 - 17:12

US lawyers have filed a class action lawsuit against Nintendo after concerns around the issue of Joy-Con drift.

It's a case which has been bubbling away for some weeks now while a growing number of fans have aired their grievances online - all claiming their Joy-Con controllers have begun misbehaving.

The lawsuit was finally filed last Friday via the United States District Court in Washington by the law offices of Chimicles, Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith (CSK&D).

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Categories: Video Games

Yooka-Laylee sequel shows off its transforming level tech

Mon, 22/07/2019 - 15:35

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is the follow-up to Playtonic's platforming debut, and it's looking very lovely indeed.

If you missed its reveal during the busy E3 period, this is the long-awaited sequel to the original Yooka-Laylee - but it comes with a bit of a twist.

Instead of the 3D platforming areas a bit (okay, a lot) like Banjo-Kazooie, this is Playtonic's take on the side-scrolling levels of Donkey Kong Country.

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Categories: Video Games

Astral Chain could be Platinum's most out there game yet

Mon, 22/07/2019 - 15:00

It's fair to say that PlatinumGames has mastered the art of the action game - but what if this talented studio were to expand in new directions? The phenomenal Nier: Automata offered a glimpse with its RPG trimmings, while the cancelled Scalebound seemed to aim even higher. Clearly Platinum is eager to push new boundaries, which is why it shouldn't be a surprise that Astral Chain is anything but simple.

If you've seen the trailers, however, it might not be entirely clear what sort of game we're dealing with here. Indeed, when I had a chance to sit down with Astral Chain last week, I really had no idea what to expect. I knew there would be action but everything else was up in the air. As I left the demo station, I couldn't help but consider the most ridiculous of comparisons. Yes, there's plenty of Platinum-style action within but everything else suggests some sort of unholy fusion between Deus Ex, Batman and The Legend of Zelda. Perhaps that's a stretching it but stay with me - there's a lot going on here.

It starts off simple enough. Players are dropped in the centre of the last human city - The Ark - as it falls under attack by a mysterious enemy known as the Chimera. These creatures are basically harvesting humanity, dragging people into an alternate dimension of sorts. To engage this new foe, a Police force known as Neuron was created - a team of elite fighters who command warriors known as Legion and... OK, maybe it's not that simple after all.

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Categories: Video Games

Indie FMV game Headspun has a release date for console and PC

Mon, 22/07/2019 - 14:32

Headspun is a British indie game looking to revive the FMV genre by placing the player in the brain of a recently awoken coma patient - and it's launching on PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Mac on 28th August.

Players will take on the role of Ted the conscious voice in the head of Theo Kavinsky, a man who has no memory of the accident or events leading up to his coma. As Ted you'll work to discover what happened and put Theo's life back on track, all the while dealing with Teddy - Theo's subconscious voice who doesn't always agree with Ted.

The game is being made by Superstring, a British microstudio run by Jamin Smith, and features footage filmed in a working hospice in Surrey.

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Categories: Video Games

Cancelled Shovel Knight board game Kickstarter to relaunch mid-August

Mon, 22/07/2019 - 12:10

After making his return to Kickstarter at the beginning of the month, Shovel Knight will have to wait a little bit longer to continue funding for his tabletop adventure, Shovel Knight: Dungeon Duels.

In an update on the Kickstarter campaign page, developer Panda Cult Games explained that after listening to its backers and the fans expectations, it was making changes to its campaign to ensure it was "the very best it can be".

"As a small team, it's supremely important to us to care about what we do and what we are working on, as well as treating it with the proper respect it deserves. We believe this campaign can be better, and we have plans to improve it and open it up to a much wider audience with a more cost-friendly version to boot!"

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Categories: Video Games

EA quietly begins what looks like a Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare 3 alpha

Mon, 22/07/2019 - 12:04

EA has sent out alpha playtest invites for a new, third Plants vs. Zombies shooter made by the Garden Warfare team.

Currently codenamed "Picnic", the game has yet to be officially announced as Plants vs Zombies 3... but it doesn't take too much to join the dots.

Invites sent out over the weekend were marked as "Confidential" and came with dire warnings from EA they were not to be shared or talked about online. So, of course, they quickly ended up all over reddit.

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Categories: Video Games

Two active F1 drivers just won iRacing's Spa 24

Mon, 22/07/2019 - 11:33

Lando Norris and Max Verstappen - arguably two of F1's hottest properties - have just wrapped up a pretty major achievement together, the two working as part of the joint Team Redline/Pure Racing Team effort to win iRacing's 24 Hours of Spa event.

The two were joined by sim racing veterans Max Benecke and Max Wenig and found themselves in the top split where they dominated proceedings, though that's not to say their race was without drama. With the race well into its final hour, Verstappen had a 'technical' issue - with his brake pedal falling off of his home rig - meaning that Lando Norris had to step in to stroke the Audi R8 LMS GT3 home. Despite the late hiccough, Team Redline PRT finished nearly 30 seconds up the road from its nearest competitor.

Norris and Verstappen are no strangers to the world of sim racing. Norris is a regular who also frequently streams his sessions on his own Twitch channel, while back in 2015 Max Verstappen pulled off an audacious move around the outside of Blanchimont in that year's Belgian Grand Prix - a move he'd practiced previously in iRacing before making it stick in the real world.

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Categories: Video Games

Splatoon 2's final Splatfest sees chaos reign

Mon, 22/07/2019 - 10:43

Two years to the day since it first released, Splatoon 2 wrapped up its final Splatfest over the weekend - with Chaos winning out over Order as Pearl mobilised her forces to beat her Off the Hook bandmate Marina.

It marks an end of sorts to Splatoon 2's official post-release support, which has boasted a regular stream of new maps, modes and weapons - and of course plenty of Splatfests, which have settled age-old rivalries such as that between mayo and ketchup (mayo being the winner, of course) and salty or sweet (the answer's salty, you dolt).

There's one final update coming to Splatoon 2 on July 31st - which will bring it to version 5.0 - which will allow players to host their own Splatfests, giving players the option to tailor ink colours and giving access to the previously time-limited Shifty Station maps.

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Categories: Video Games

Snack Hacks, a cookbook for people who like games, is a strange delight

Mon, 22/07/2019 - 09:00

"Chop the parsley," he writes, "just enough to discipline it." There is a poetry to a good recipe, a way of looking at the world that transports the reader. Fergus Henderson, the founder of St John, which is the greatest restaurant in the world if you ask me, is in the kitchen. He has some parsley. He wants to chop it. How much? Just enough...

That line rattles around in my head all day every day. Chop the parsley... I have been to St John several times now, and Fergus is always there at a table. Why wouldn't he be? If you've created the greatest restaurant in the world, where else are you going to head for lunch? I have read and re-read his cookbook, too, a vast white slab of a thing, pink fore-edges, a bit of texture to the cover. Mostly I read and re-read the recipe for bone marrow on toast. Chop the parsley, just enough, discipline. Wonderful stuff, parsley.

It's not just Henderson. Eat Me is my second-favourite cookbook, written by Kenny Shopsin, proprietor of a tiny restaurant in New York that I have always been afraid to go into because Shopsin often took against people instantly and denied them a seat at the counter. Shopsin died last year, sadly. He sounded wonderful. I still look in the mirror sometimes and see a person that Shopsin would have disliked. In Eat Me, right, he is telling you how to make his chili, which is the greatest chili in the world if you ask me. I make this chili at least once a month, I even have a cooking pot that I bought specially. And how hot should you make the pot before you begin? Hot enough, says Shopsin, to bounce a drop of water off the bottom of the pan.

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Categories: Video Games

Respawn is "investigating ways" of detecting Apex Legends players using a keyboard and mouse on console

Sun, 21/07/2019 - 18:52

Respawn has confirmed it does not condone Apex Legends players using a keyboard and mouse on consoles.

In amongst some discussion about Apex Legends competitive events and its Respawn Artist Showcase in the "7.19 Respawn Check-In" update on Reddit, the developer dropped a little reminder that if you're using a mouse and keyboard whilst playing the free-to-play battle royale on console, they "are investigating ways to detect if players are doing it that".

"Our stance on this? The short answer is: we don't condone it," said community manager, Jay Frechette. "We are investigating ways to detect if players are doing it that we're testing internally. That's all we have to say on it for now but we'll revisit this and talk about progress with detection and how we'll address players that are using it in the near future."

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Categories: Video Games

Kingdom Hearts: VR Experience Part 2 will roll out next week

Sun, 21/07/2019 - 18:27

The second part of Kingdom Hearts: VR Experience is rolling out to PSVR on 24th July, 2019.

The update brings the ability to use motion controllers in "some new, yet familiar, worlds like Olympus Coliseum", and enable players to "immerse [themselves] in the world of Kingdom Hearts like never before".

Just like its predecessor, this VR update is free and brings a number of experiences missing from the first VR sample, including Hercules' Olympus Coliseum. It's not clear what - nor how many - areas are included, but PlayStation says the latest instalment will enable you to "relive unforgettable moments" from the game (thanks, Engadget).

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Categories: Video Games

Netflix's The Witcher show will indeed include THAT scene

Sun, 21/07/2019 - 17:57

Yes, there's going to be a bathtub scene in The Witcher Netflix series.

Whilst showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich wouldn't be drawn on who, exactly, will be taking a soak - or who they might be accompanied by - she did confirm to io9 that "there's a bathtub".

"There is a bathtub this season," Hissrich said. "I won't tell you who's in the bathtub, but there's a bathtub."

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Categories: Video Games

Sumo Digital teams up with 2K for at least two undisclosed "projects"

Sun, 21/07/2019 - 17:27

Sumo Digital has announced it is partnering up with publisher 2K.

The developer - which has a diverse back catalogue including games like LittleBigPlanet 3, Hitman 2, and Crackdown 3 - is not yet ready to clarify what, exactly, they're partnering up to make, but a plural in the brief statement made by Sumo Digital intimates they'll be collaborating on at least two projects.

"We're delighted to be working with 2K and look forward to disclosing details of the projects in due course," said Gary Dunn, managing director at Sumo Digital (thanks, MCV).

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Categories: Video Games

Porting Ubisoft games to Google Stadia is now part of the publisher's "pipelines"

Sun, 21/07/2019 - 16:02

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot has confirmed the developer now includes readying its games for Google's cloud-based streaming platform, Stadia, as part of its "pipelines".

Talking to investors earlier this week (thanks, Gamasutra), CEO Guillemot and CFO Frederick Duguet wouldn't be drawn on precisely how expensive the process has been to date, but Duguet did disclose that the work equated to a "financial equation [that] is good for [Ubisoft]."

When pressed for a comparison between the costs of preparing a game for Stadia in oppose to traditional platforms like console or PC, Guillemot said: "The extra cost to put to make sure the games work well on Stadia is not that high. It's part now of our pipelines and we have a good relationship with Stadia to make sure it is profitable for us."

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Categories: Video Games

Telefrag VR brings the speed of 90s arena shooters to VR headsets

Sun, 21/07/2019 - 15:00

As someone who was lucky enough to be a teenager in the 90s, I am very much a fan of old-school arena shooters like Quake and Unreal Tournament. That's why Telefrag VR caught my eye; its pre-release press releases boasted of fast-paced, visceral movement and combat mechanics that were directly inspired by those immortal video game classics.

But does Telefrag VR really live up to the hype from its PR department? You can find out in this week's episode of Ian's VR Corner, which you can find just below these words.

Before I go any further, I should point out that I have only played Telefrag VR in its pre-release, review phase. During this time the public lobbies were empty so my criticisms are based on vs matches with bots only. With that said, apart from perhaps some more challenging opponents, I can't imagine the overall experience being that different once human players are introduced.

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Categories: Video Games

Blazing Chrome delivers the Contra spiritual sequel we've been waiting for

Sun, 21/07/2019 - 14:00

They are the side-scrolling games of 16-bit legend. Contra 3: The Alien Wars and Contra: The Hard Corps saw Konami's run-and-gun series reach the zenith of its powers but since then, the franchise has been neglected and the magic has gone. Until now. Brazilian indie developer JoyMasher has produced the 'spiritual sequel' we need - and indeed deserve - in the form of Blazing Chrome, a love letter to Contra and other 16-bit classics. It's a perfect blend of detailed, period-appropriate 2D pixel art, expertly crafted stages - and it's available now on all modern platforms, from Switch to PS4/Xbox to PC. But what makes it succeed and what did it take to build it?

I'm finding the game to be massively enjoyable and eager to find out more, I spoke to JoyMasher directly to find out what it took to make the game, and what the 'secret sauce' is in creating a new experience that also feels so authentic to the Contra classics. After all, Relying on modern technology can produce beautiful results but perfecting an experience that feels like it is running on older hardware is more difficult. Sonic Mania is an example of how to get this right, but many others have failed.

Thankfully, Blazing Chrome is equally as successful - it's a game that feels genuinely authentic to the mid-90s in every way while expanding upon what makes those classics so good. In many ways, this feels like a follow-up to Contra: The Hard Corps as it might have existed on Sega Saturn. That makes sense when you check out the early prototypes for the game. Blazing Chrome's initial builds were built using art from both The Hard Corps and Contra 3. Like the best games on the Mega Drive, there's a focus on deep parallax scrolling with a limited colour palette, but the developers have opted to push beyond this spec introducing huge numbers of sprites, scaling and rotation and other tricks. Obviously though, it's the game design that's of crucial importance.

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Categories: Video Games