The Secret World reveals…more secrets

Funcom has released a new trailer that delves into the shadowy stories and conspiracies making up its backdrop.

Everything from the Tower of Babel to the Ark of the Covenant are being used as potential jumping off points for this new MMORPG. In it, players will take part in a secret war for the fate of the world as three factions will vie for supremacy using magic, technology, and mythology. Sounds like it could be a winning combination.

Mass Effect to be adapted into anime form

Mass Effect series developers BioWare and anime distributors FUNimation Entertainment announced a deal to produce a feature-length anime based on the Mass Effect series.

Tokyo-based T.O. Entertainment will co-produce the film, according to a press release. Mass Effect executive producer Casey Hudson is set to executive produce the anime with
 FUNimation  CEO Gen Fukunaga, Director of Original
Entertainment Chris Moujaes and T.O Entertainment’s CEO Takeichi Honda
and Yui Shibata.

Filmmakers have already started production and digital and video releases are scheduled for summer 2012.

Production of the Mass Effect anime movie has already begun. Digital and home video releases are scheduled for the summer of 2012.


Rockstar releases new trailer for “L.A. Noire”

Rockstar Games and Team Bondi have a new trailer for “L.A. Noire” that further showcases the game’s cinematic aspects.

Previous trailers have shown game protagonist and 1947 LAPD detective Cole Phelps investigating a case of murder-for-insurance money, a Black Dahlia-esque serial killing case and other examples of vintage vice. The new trailer, the game’s third, reveals the game will also put Phelps on the trail of both a rigged boxing match and government-issued morphine. What’s more, “the LAPD cops might be involved” with whatever sinister deeds are being committed in the City of Angels.

The trailer doesn’t really give prospective players a chance to anticipate what L.A. Noire’s actual gameplay will be like, but the featured cut scenes look superb. The game’s visuals and soundtrack are reminiscent of such noir classics as “Chinatown” and “L.A. Confidential,” just as last year’s “Red Dead Redemption” looked to Westerns like “The Wild Bunch” or “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” for visual and thematic inspiration. Is Rockstar guilty of borrowing too much from movies? Let us know what you think.

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L.A. Noire is scheduled to be released for PlayStation 3 and XBox 360 on May 17 in North America.

EA Games announces Battlefield Play4Free

EA Games today announced the release of “Battlefield: Play4Free“, a new title the company describes as a mix of “Battlefield 2″ and “Battlefield: Bad Company”, without the price of having to pay for either title.The free game combines Battlefield 2 maps with Bad Company’s weapons and character classes, EA Games announced. Battlefield: Play4Free also features 16 vehicles, including the Mi-28 attack helicopter F-35 VTOL fighter jet.

Video games have proved that many people enjoy participating in kinetic military action as long as they don’t actually have to leave home and get shot at. EA Games is now making it possible to play a kinetic military action game without having to pay for it, which seems like a pretty shrewd way to reward PC loyalists and lure FPS fans away from Call of Duty in advance of Battlefield 3.

Battlefield 3 is set for a Fall 2011 release on PC, PlayStation 3 and XBox 360. I thought Battlefield 2 and its franchise brethren were well-made games, although newcomers to  the series need to be prepared to be bombed into the stone age when pitted against longtime players who know how to use the game’s aircraft.

I’ll have to wait until I get away from my work computer to download the game and offer my opinion. Check back for a new posting later this week.

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Gaming games

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An interesting thread came up on Reddit a few days ago which outed an astroturfer using a large number of accounts to promote certain articles and posts on the site, specifically within its gaming area. One enterprising Redditor did a little digging and exposed the whole thing which you can read about here. The sites that have apparently been benefiting from having a few of their articles promoted in this way on Reddit are GamePro, G4TV, VGChartz, and GamrFeed.

Quite a few of the replies to it are filled with obvious, albeit civil and measured, rage. There are also a few amusing ones in there including one from an account called BiowareMarketingDept complaining about the unfair treatment of Dragon Age 2. But there’s no question how serious a problem this is.

So what is astroturfing? In short, it creates an illusion of popularity around something by using tactics disguised as the public voice – old fashioned shilling. In this case, by having one user masquerade as several different ones using separate accounts to promote certain articles. Instead of having the kind of social discourse based on honest votes, astroturfers stuff the ballot box by using fake people. It’s really nothing new and there are PR companies out there that have hired out people to do exactly this, creating underground ad campaigns with the appearance of a grassroots movement. There’s even a film out there that documents what it’s all about.

It’s pretty frustrating to see sites such as the ones above resort to using methods like this to promote their own work on a social news site like Reddit since it taints the entire reason for sites like it to exist in the first place. Promoting your piece by submitting it on sites is one thing, but hiring someone to fake the sort of discourse that should result subverts the kind of social interaction from those honestly assessing it.

The sites outed above have issued apologies, but one or two smack of PR backtracking after having their hands caught in the cookie jar. Simply stating to being ignorant of who they were hiring and what methods they were using comes off as almost irresponsible. Where was the review process? The oversight? Or did they not care above seeing the hits coming in?

Sadly, this will likely not be the last time an astroturfer has been caught and the sites they worked with outed. There are probably many more out there doing the exact same thing and taking better care in covering their steps. It might only be a matter of time before they are also found out, but when it comes to the ‘net, picking up where they had left off is as easy as registering for a new account.

BurgerTime returns in HD

I loved the arcades. At least when we HAD arcades to go to.

One of my favorite games from that time was a little something from Data East called BurgerTime in which you controlled a tiny chef climbing up and down ladders and running across platforms to create giant hamburgers. All the while you were chased by things like sausages and eggs with only two shakes of a peppershaker to save you. It was like a fast food worker’s worst nightmare.

Now it looks like the old classic is going to be resurrected by Monkeypaw Games as an HD title. It even has a retooled version of the original theme and the levels looks like they could be a lot of fun while retaining that 2D-styled movement. Is it also no surprise that Monkeypaw is also doing a promotion with Burger King with DLC featuring the King?

Burgertime HD should be hitting your favorite downloadable source whether its Xbox Live, WiiWare, PSN, or Microsoft Windows sometime in the summer.