When it comes to used games and DLC, buyer beware.

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It’s not a big secret that efforts are being made by companies such as EA to limit the appeal of buying used copies or pirating their games by including one-time DLC codes, a bonus for players that buy a new copy of a game. So if someone sells a used copy of say, Dragon Age or Mass Effect 2 to Gamestop, odds are very, very good that the next person won’t get the freebies from it because who can resist free stuff, right?

It’s a shrewd way of handling the used market from the publisher’s perspective, but the core game is still intact. You can still play the game all the way through to its ending, but if you want that fancy new Dragon Armor, you’ll need to pay a little extra for the privilege.

But according to IGN, it seems that one player wasn’t very happy about it.

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Ubisoft Apologizes for Downtime with Free Stuffs

Did you lose out when you were disconnected from Ubisoft’s DRM servers? Ubisoft has come up with an apology for those affected by the downtime with an offer of free stuff.

According to Kotaku, it seems that PC players of Assassin’s Creed II who were affected will either get the extra map content for AC2 (like the Arsenal Shipyard) or their choice of one of four games: Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X, Heroes Over Europe, Endwar, or Prince of Persia.

It’s not quite clear on who got what offer, but as the article points out, it might depend on whether you have the Special Edition or the normal release.

Personally, I’d go with Prince of Persia.

Publishing is dead? Think again.

Is publishing going to die out with the rise of the iPad and every other mobile screen that allows for books to be stored as 1s and 0s? Not by a longshot if Dorling Kindersley Books has anything to say about it.

Created by the UK branch of DK, this is a clever presentation that was made for a sales conference but had proven to be so popular, it was posted in the wild for the world to see. It clocks in at roughly two and a half minutes, but it’s worth watching for a clever difference in perspective.

The C&C4 PC crowd on Amazon is…angry…

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So far, Amazon is showing EA’s Command & Conquer 4 at a one-star rating by its users. Granted, not all of the “reviews” may be from those that had actually played the game, but the ones that appear to be point out some solid reasons why it has probably killed the series.

Looking through the posts, there aren’t many people that were happy with the direction that the game had taken, the threadbare story that doesn’t quite answer everything, low unit caps, or the draconian DRM that will haunt your PC.

It’s pretty ugly, especially coming in on the heels that EA has let most if not all of the team go. Even former CGW/GFW editor, Jeff Green, had tweeted a little of his own frustrations over the game, and he works for EA.

Ubisoft’s Silent Hunter V has also suffered the same fate along with the PC version of Assassin’s Creed II. There’s some kind of shared theme here, I think.

Wikipedia down, should be back

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It looks like Wikipedia has gone down. I was doing a little research when Firefox suddenly told me that it can’t be reached. Uh, oh.

Hitting the site gets me to to the intro page, but the text looks…off…and doing a search from it or clicking on any of the language links takes me to the above. Doing a trace route shows that the hardware is pinging back, but getting into Wikipedia is still a no-go as of this initial writing.

Social media site, Mashable, also reports the same thing happening to many other users and have a link to tweets reporting the issue.

A more detailed post on Huffington has a quote from Wikipedia’s technical gurus on what actually happened:

“Due to an overheating problem in our European data center many of our servers turned off to protect themselves. As this impacted all Wikipedia and other projects access from European users, we were forced to move all user traffic to our Florida cluster, for which we have a standard quick failover procedure in place, that changes our DNS entries.

However, shortly after we did this failover switch, it turned out that this failover mechanism was now broken, causing the DNS resolution of Wikimedia sites to stop working globally. This problem was quickly resolved, but unfortunately it may take up to an hour before access is restored for everyone, due to caching effects.”

In plain English, it’ll be back in about an hour.

I Pwned that Promotion

From Australia comes a news story where an assistant professor has motivated his class by throwing out the grading scale by using experience points instead. From the article, Lee Sheldon of the Indiana University has been quoted as saying:

“As the gamer generation moves into the mainstream workforce, they are willing and eager to apply the culture and learning-techniques they bring with them from games,” said Sheldon, a gamer, game designer and assistant professor at the university’s department of telecommunications.

“It will be up to management, often of pre-gamer generations, to figure out how to educate themselves to the gamer culture, and how to speak to it most effectively,” he told iTnews.

You can read the rest of the article here. Apparently, according to the article, his students have taken to this unorthodox approach with “greater enthusiasm”. I know I would have for certain classes back in the day.

That’s not to say that every cup of joe you drink at the office will restore your health (although it can seem that way) or that every copy you make will earn points towards a new desk, though. Instead, he’s trying to make the point that “providing defined goals, incremental rewards, and balancing effort and reward” are key to happy employees.

As others may tell you, though, that’s a lot easier said than done, but it’s definitely a noble effort in engaging his particular audience. In this case, his students. Other employers do the same thing in other ways, such as Google which provides a vast number of perks and rewards for its employees to keep them happy, not the least of which is allowing them to work on projects that don’t have to do with Google at all to prepare for the possibility that they might want to head out and start their own business with what they have learned. Try doing that at a few other jobs, and it could get you fired.

Still, as one of the comments to the article have jokingly mentioned, using a literal interpretation of Lee’s approach would probably make for interesting Boss fights. But the grind would probably still be there to deal with.

Review: Final Fantasy XIII (PS3)

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Final Fantasy’s reputation for reinventing itself with every major release as well as spreading its brand name into other genres has made it a powerhouse series since it had saved a struggling Square in the early eighties. While some developers may choose to standardize on a set of systems for their own games, Square Enix’s ongoing efforts in designing a new battle system, set of characters, and an entire world to put them in with every title say as much for their imaginative talents as it does for their efforts in keeping the franchise fresh.

FF13, the latest in the franchise’s long line of major RPG entries, raises the same stakes and is part of a huge celebration of Final Fantasy that Square-Enix has termed Fabula Nova Crystalis. FF13 is only the first “13″ title to emerge in this series, but it is considered the flagship title of the new compilation. It’s a huge game that easily clocks in at sixty or more hours of fantastic adventure.

Whether they’ve also fit in enough actual gameplay, however, depends on how much tunnel vision you want to endure for the story that it wants to tell.
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Review: Battlefield – Bad Company 2 (X360)

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The success of Activision’s Modern Warfare franchise has made it the 400lb gorilla to beat on the battlefield for many developers. The record-smashing success of its sequel has also given many of its competitors pause, but EA DICE has been tweeting its own horn in positioning their own war machine as a convincing contender for the camoflauged crown. Whether it’s the lure of its vast maps and pedestrian-unfriendly vehicles, or in actually providing PC players with a basic online GUI, Bad Company 2′s action packed followup easily brings in plenty of reasons in kicking kill streaks to the curb.
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Review: God of War 3

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God of War 3 is a revenge tale, and not the kind with the happy ending that leaves you feeling fuzzy about everything that happened. This is dirty, nasty payback, fueled by the kind of single-minded rage that can take even the noblest of heroes to a dark place.

Sony Computer Entertainment’s latest (and presumably last) installment of its famed franchise is also its most ambitious, exploring the powers of the PS3 as much as the mental and physical odyssey of its hero, Kratos.

It accomplishes both tasks in impressive fashion, giving players an grand action-fest with bloody fun, guilty pleasures and even some brains — as in smarts, not what ends up smeared on the wall.

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Ubisoft DRM servers stressed out. Past life synchronizations delayed.

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Having trouble playing the PC version of Assassin’s Creed 2 or Silent Hunter 5 today? You’re not the only one. Joystiq notes that the Assassin’s Creed 2 forum has a thread filled with angry users that suddenly find they can’t get into the game, either. There’s even a post in there about someone who bought the game as a gift over the weekend and now can’t play it. The forum for the WW2 sub-sim, Silent Hunter 5, also has a similar, vitriol filled thread.

An Ubisoft representative in the Assassin’s Creed 2 forum has posted the following:

“Due to exceptional demand, we are currently experiencing difficulties with the Online Service Platform. This does not affect customers who are currently playing, but customers attempting to start a game may experience difficulty in accessing our servers. We are currently working to resolve this issue and apologize for any inconvenience.”

This is actually covered in their FAQ as to what would happen if this occurred. As for when it will be resolved, the same representative had replied to the thread noted above by saying:

“I don’t have any clear information on what the issue is since I’m not in the office, but clearly the extended downtime and lengthy login issues are unacceptable, particularly as I’ve been told these servers are constantly monitored.

I’ll do what I can to get more information on what the issue is here first thing tomorrow and push for a resolution and assurance this won’t happen in the future. I realise that’s not ideal but there’s only so much I can do on a weekend as I’m not directly involved with the server side of this system.”

In the meantime, PC fans will simply have to wait.

UPDATE (3.8.2010): According to Blue’s News, it seems that the problems experienced yesterday were the result of an attack against their servers according to this Tweet from Ubisoft. In this one, they claim that 95% of their players weren’t affected. So it sounds like it’s happy gaming for PC gamers once again. At least for today.