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Date: Saturday, 13 Sep 2014 01:13

It's called the Black Garden. You see it from a clifftop above, gazing across the blooming acres through a thick green haze, and imagine the sights that might be seen there, and the adventures you might have there. The reality of the garden is sadly never better than the stories you might make up in your head when you look down at it. What you see is a facade; the garden is a broken promise of adventures you never have and landscapes never explored, and it represents the whole of Destiny, a multiplayer shooter that cobbles together elements of massively multiplayer games but overlooks the lessons developers of such games learned many years ago. I dream of the tales that might one day be told in that sprawling expanse, but Destiny is not yet telling them.

Instead, Destiny prefers telling the same pedestrian stories time and time again, hoping to transfix you with its rinse-and-repeat pace and ply you with the possibility of better loot, rather than with gameplay diversity that gives you good reason to hope for surprises on the horizon. Cooperative missions--some of them occurring within the story, and others, called strikes, occurring outside of it--are primarily about doors and computers. Your robotic companion, an orb voiced by Game of Thrones actor Peter Dinklage, hacks into a lot of them, and it is your job to shoot aliens hailing from various galactic races while he drones the occasional word of encouragement. ("I'll work faster," he says, in a bored not-quite-robot, not-quite human delivery that, like most of Destiny, lacks energy and charisma.) The fight may end with an elite enemy, or even a giant boss, that absorbs many minutes worth of bullet fire before it falls, just in time for Dinklage-bot to announce his success and open the door that leads to another firefight and another terminal to hack into.

The repetition may not bother you at first. It's easy to be taken in by Destiny's gorgeous shell, a slick and striking wrapper that surrounds the hollow and unimaginative game languishing inside of it. Everything about the game screams "big budget," and Destiny's versions of Earth, Mars, the Moon, and Venus are meant to be ogled and appreciated. Outside of the pockets of alien invaders and the dropships that bring you even more strange entities to annihilate, these are sterile places, more like stunning screensavers than dynamic domains. But what views Destiny offers! From the golden-red sands of Mars rise rocky crags and abandoned facilities that speak to a history the story offers too few glimpses into. On Venus, you might hesitate to step foot into streams of unknown purple liquid that couldn't exist on the planet as we currently understand it. These sights are awe-inspiring, though Destiny takes a "look but don't touch" approach to them. That purple liquid? It's fine to walk through. Destiny's environments are oblivious to your presence, more cold and indifferent than hostile and mysterious.

Make no mistake: Destiny's mechanical basics are, for the most part, superb. Interacting with this online-only shooter is a delight. The confident shooting model, the intuitive menus, the unblemished frame rate--all of these elements make for a fantastic foundation to build a worthy dynamic multiplayer shooter upon. Pulse rifles shoot their rhythmic barrages with great power, and charging up a fusion rifle and releasing its payload is akin to holding your breath and then expelling it in one rewarding sigh. The game's best combat feature, however, might be its melee attack, regardless of which of the game's three all-too-similar classes you choose. Destiny nails that special, difficult-to-define something comprised of fluid controls, excellent collision detection, and awesome technology that makes every action silky and responsive. You can leap and glide through the air, a mechanic that gives Destiny a sense of freedom that matches its open spaces, and helps you escape danger when encounters get tough.

Why does the moon have the same gravity as earth? Because "The Traveler," I guess. 2654747-2014090917183840.jpg

The most powerful foes put up a decent fight, using cover to their advantage, protecting themselves with shields, or assailing you en masse. If only you got access to the aliens' intriguing firearms instead of being confined to the game's excellent but bog-standard arsenal. Luckily, you gain access to different types of slow-to-replenish grenades, and a few superpowers, such as the warlock's magical area-of-effect projectile, that take even longer to recharge. The extraterrestrial races you battle come in all shapes and sizes and yank their names from the Dungeons & Dragons rulebook: wizard, minotaur, harpy, and the like. Tearing down the alien hordes can be enjoyable. You set the sights of your machine gun on a chain of thralls and mow them down while a troop of acolytes fires on you from a distance. The stage is set for an electrifying showdown.

The disappointment of Destiny is that it fails to capitalize on the possibilities. Story missions and strike missions have you taking to Destiny's broad and beautiful settings with a friend or two at your side, but breadth isn't the games primary calling card: it's repetition. Excellent basics are betrayed by half-baked ideas stretched into hours of slow-paced and redundant tasks that have you asking yourself, "Hey, isn't this the same canyon I just raced through on my handy speeder a few moments ago? Hey, didn't I just cross this hill 10 minutes ago, and 20 minutes ago, and an hour ago?" It's tempting to compare Destiny to full-fledged massively multiplayer role-playing games, but doing so reveals how much more diverse typical MMOGs really are. By contrast, Destiny makes no attempt to mask the sameness of its primary tasks. To pursue new content in Destiny is to fondly recall a trophy you've already won. It's nice to relive the victory, but new celebrations require new victories, not home movies of the old ones.

Headshots are helpful, but goblins are best shot in their middles!

Destiny tries to mask its repetitiveness with a vague story that uses more cryptoscientific nonsense than an entire season of Star Trek, and grants your character so meaningless an identity, and so little dialogue, that he or she might as well be a silent protagonist. "Lure out the Vex Gate Lord that protects the Endless Steps and bring its head back to the Awoken," says the mission text, making you ponder phenomena you know next to nothing about. What is the role of the Awoken in this solar system? What is the historical relevance of the Endless Steps? What purpose drives the Vex, and indeed, what do the Awoken hope to learn?

I don't have the answers.

The story hints at its potential about halfway through, when you meet two of Destiny's few non-Dinklage characters, both of whom wear dramatic costumes and fill their speech with pregnant pauses worthy of the best Bond villains. Alas, Destiny wastes the opportunity to develop a mystery worth caring about, and instead reverts to more fetch quests, then follows them up with a manipulative ending that reminds you that the game's superlative orchestral soundtrack does far more work in establishing this world's tone than the mediocre writing ever does. To be fair, some of the item descriptions, and lore-heavy explanations you can read on Destiny's official website, fill in some narrative gaps. But even many of those explanations require you to meet certain thresholds so that you can unlock them. Developer Bungie doesn't take responsibility for its own story; instead, it passes the responsibility for learning the story on to you, but never infuses its game with the richness of tone that might inspire you to seek answers.

Stop staring at the scenery. There are people to shoot!

There's loot, of course, much of it in the form of new weapons, armor, and blueprints called engrams, which you redeem at a hub called the Tower. You share this space with a dozen-plus other players, most of whom talk to the vendors there without concern for other players. If you're used to the barrage of loot you receive while playing games like Borderlands or Diablo III, be sure to prepare for Destiny's slower pace of doling out rewards. It's befitting that meaningful new stuff doesn't come that frequently, given how Destiny on the whole feels like a standard-sized experience stretched entirely too thin. Once you leave the tale behind, which happens about 15 hours into Destiny should you play story missions that match your level, your desire for loot is the biggest determining factor when deciding whether to stick with Destiny or to jump ship.

I'm not sure I will return, in spite of the promise of a larger-scale raid event soon to come. Each automatic rifle is more or less like the last, and the various passive upgrades do little to spur my interest. Much of Destiny feels underdone and underthought. There's no scaling system in place to allow players of too-disparate levels to play together, or even to draw you back to lower-level areas.The presence of players outside of your fireteam is more window dressing than vital mechanic, particularly if you level up in ways that don't involve performing patrol missions, which return you to previously explored areas to perform random, boring quests. It is on patrol missions that you stumble upon public events, which draw nearby players together to vanquish greater foes, like a hardy spider tank that soaks up rockets and heavy fire. Given Destiny's habit of delivering small-scale action in a large-scale world, it's a shame it's so easy to miss out on these events: they are one of the few elements that make Destiny spring to life.

Destiny prefers telling the same stories time and time again, hoping to transfix you with its rinse-and-repeat pace and ply you with the possibility of better loot, rather than with gameplay diversity that intimates surprises hovering on the horizon.

2654745-2014090916254422.jpg

The crucible is where the action heats up, even if it rarely erupts with true thrills. This is where Destiny's competitive multiplayer lurks, and it's entirely competent. A post-Halo Bungie reminds us once again off its mastery of level design, with intricate maps of various sizes that get put to good use in four different modes. Six-member free-for-all deathmatch finds its stride on maps that recall the winding corridors and central combat arenas of Unreal Tournament, and gives you a good reason to wield a shotgun if you've gotten accustomed to equipping a sniper rifle in that secondary weapon slot. This six-player deathmatch also has a team variation, on which teams of three hunt each other at a more thoughtful pace than the other modes provide. It's best to stick with friends for this one: communication is key, as is carefully surveying the area before making moves that could put you directly in an opponent's line of sight. It's Destiny's tensest mode, but one that strangers can easily disrupt. Typical team deathmatches involve twice as many players on maps that sometimes allow you to leap into one of Destiny's two combat vehicles. (Oh, how I wish these vehicles had been put to better use outside of the crucible.)

Control mode, in which players seek to secure specified control points, is the most enjoyable, however, allowing both lone wolves and focused teams to contribute. There are some issues here, such as the way the auto-targeting can cause a passing opponent to grab your targeting reticle when you are trying to fire at a different target. However, competitive play proves itself a worthy way of leveling up and earning access to gear otherwise unavailable. The maps themselves eventually reveal subtle but clever details that become important tactical considerations. Those large space-age doors take a moment to open, and do so loudly enough that you might very well signal your approach. Mounted guns offer a view of the exact right amount of real estate, making a stationary gunner potentially valuable but by no means overpowered. If any attack is overpowered, it might be the arc blade, the bladedancer subclass's super ability, which cuts through you like a knife through space butter. (It's the gunslinger's golden gun ability that I most often succumb to, however.)

You might summarize Destiny by the way in which it wraps up its story. Once the final, hackneyed closing scene finishes, fireteam members are awarded the same weapon, regardless of class, and a handful of currency. This reminder of how wholly unspecial you are is the big finale of a lavishly produced but troubled game that excels in the basics but lacks creativity and heart. It is role-playing grind in shooter form--an empty house built on a firm foundation.

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Date: Saturday, 13 Sep 2014 00:37
Justin and Gaj get their hands on the 3DS version of Super Smash Bros. and they duke it out in this episode of Now Playing!
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Date: Friday, 12 Sep 2014 23:56
Jeremy spends all too much time playing the Warlock and breaks down the intricacies of the space wizard's subclasses, abilities, strengths, and weaknesses.
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Date: Friday, 12 Sep 2014 23:41

We've spent some extensive time with a 3DS build of Super Smash Bros., and we recently came across one menu that seems to reveal a feature Nintendo hasn't talked about much: You'll be able to use your 3DS as a Smash Bros. controller on Wii U.

We already knew that the game featured connectivity with the Wii U version. Namely, you can transfer your custom-created fighters between the two versions (so all of the power-ups that you earn in Smash Run on 3DS aren't completely wasted once the console version comes out). But if you're really sold on the 3DS as a controller, or you just want to transfer your newfound handheld skills directly over to the big Screen, you'll also be able to connect your 3DS wirelessly to your Wii U and use your 3DS as your controller.

However, pro Smash players on Wii U will likely want to opt for the GameCube controller option. No word on whether there will be an adaptor that lets you play 3DS smash with a full controller, but given the small screen size, that probably wouldn't be the best idea anyway.

If you want to check out more Smash, we spent an hour playing through the game today, and you can watch our playthrough here. Or check out a montage of the main characters' Final Smash moves. We'll have lots more videos, and full rundowns on the game's unlockable characters next week.

Justin Haywald is a senior editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @JustinHaywald

For all of GameSpot's news coverage, check out our hub. Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com
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Date: Friday, 12 Sep 2014 23:00
Microsoft turns Destiny into a fragrance, ESPN says eSports aren’t sports, and we get more info on Resident Evil: Revelations 2!
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Date: Friday, 12 Sep 2014 19:41

The new Super Smash Bros. is not the only Nintendo game that 3DS owners will soon have the opportunity to play ahead of release. Nintendo today announced a "special" demo version of Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire that will let fans transfer some content into the full game, although it's being very coy with the details.

According to Nintendo, the demo will contain "gameplay that players won't experience anywhere else." It didn't elaborate on exactly what it means by that, but did tease that a "familiar" Pokemon that can now Mega Evolve can be obtained while playing the demo. Once the full game is out, this Mega-Evolved Pokemon--along with unspecified items you'll obtain while playing the demo--can be transferred to your copy of Omega Ruby or Alpha Sapphire. Details for doing so will be revealed "soon."

There's no word yet on when the demo will be released, but you will need a special code in order to download it. Again, Nintendo isn't saying how you'll get one right now; that information is also coming sometime "soon."

In addition to the new trailer you can watch above, Nintendo today announced a raft of details regarding Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, which are 3DS remakes of the Game Boy Advance Ruby and Sapphire games. This includes Pokemon Bank and Pokemon Global Link support for the remakes, as well as the fact that Legendary Pokemon Rayquaza will be available.

It also revealed the new abilities that Primal forms of Groudon and Kyogre (Ruby and Sapphire's respective Legendary Pokemon) will gain when undergoing Primal Reversion. As explained by Nintendo:

Primal Groudon gains the Desolate Land Ability, which changes the weather condition to extremely harsh sunlight. Opponents cannot change the weather condition during extremely harsh sunlight, meaning moves like Rain Dance, Sunny Day, Sandstorm, and Hail will fail, and Water-type attacks will fizzle out. Abilities like Drizzle, Drought, Sand Stream, and Snow Warning will also fail to activate. Groudon can unleash a move unique to it alone, Precipice Blades, a powerful attack that can hit multiple opponents with an upward surge of sharp rocks.

Primal Kyogre's exclusive Ability is Primordial Sea, which changes the weather condition to an oppressive heavy rain. As with extremely harsh sunlight, opponents cannot change the weather condition during heavy rain. The Abilities Drizzle, Drought, Sand Stream, and Snow Warning will fail to activate, and Fire-type attacks become ineffective as well. Kyogre has its own move that only it can use, Origin Pulse, an attack that can slam multiple opponents with water massed into ballistic orbs.

Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire launch in North America on November 21.

Chris Pereira is a freelance writer for GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @TheSmokingManX
For all of GameSpot's news coverage, check out our hub. Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com
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Date: Friday, 12 Sep 2014 19:15
Fog of War concept art

Sledgehammer Games' shelved third-person Call of Duty game, developed under the working title Fog of War and set during the Vietnam War in Cambodia, was aiming for Uncharted-style gameplay and an Apocalypse Now-type tone. That's according to co-founder Michael Condrey, who opened up about the game in a new interview with Eurogamer.

"In your head you instantly can imagine an Uncharted style of game, but done in the lore of Call of Duty," he said. "You can see that. We built a prototype and it was cool. It was a true, gritty, Apocalypse Now take on Vietnam in an interactive way. We had a 15-minute demo, and there were some great moments."

As for why Sledgehammer Games originally targeted Vietnam for the game, co-founder Glen Schofield said it was "because it was scary, it was gritty." Portions of the game were set in the tunnels of Cambodia, he added.

Though we have seen various images from Fog of War, including the one above, no gameplay footage has been released. Schofield says the game was "different" and didn't have the same fast-paced, twitch gameplay that Call of Duty is known for. "Was it Call of Duty? Well, it said Call of Duty," Schofield said.

Sledgehammer's current project, Advanced Warfare

The story about what happened to the game is now well-known. As Modern Warfare developer Infinity Ward struggled after Activision fired founders Jason West and Vince Zampella, the publisher tapped Sledgehammer to help finish Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. It was a tough decision to abandon Fog of War, but working on Modern Warfare 3 was an "opportunity we just couldn't pass up," Condrey said in another interview.

Regarding Sledgehammer's current project, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Condrey said his company knew from the beginning that it wanted to innovate in a meaningful way with the game. Thinking about what its plans were for what would become Advanced Warfare, Condrey said, "We want to change this thing," referring to the Call of Duty series.

The major year-over-year innovation for Advanced Warfare is its superhuman exoabilities, provided to players through an exosuit that characters can wear. Wearing the suit, players can rip doors off cars, jump high through the air, and climb walls using magnetic gloves. For more on how these abilities work, check out GameSpot's hands-on preview of Advanced Warfare.

Set to launch November 4, Advanced Warfare is coming to Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PC--but not Wii U.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch

For all of GameSpot's news coverage, check out our hub. Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Date: Friday, 12 Sep 2014 17:57
2653873-bomberman.jpg

Update: In what I think can be safely called an underwhelming reveal, Konami tweeted out a link at 12PM to a page on its website that appears to have a YouTube video on it. When you click to play it, you go through a sequence of explosions on the page--a "Bomberman Roll," Konami's timely take on Rickrolling--and end up looking at the image that's pictured above. Clicking on it takes you to the iOS App Store page for Bomberman Chains, a mobile Bomberman game from 2011 that went free-to-play earlier this week.

2653819-explosive.jpg

Original Story: Konami has published a tease on Twitter for some kind of announcement it's planning to make this afternoon. We'll find out exactly what it is in just about an hour, at 12PM PST (3PM EST).

The tweet simply reads, "9/12/14 12:00 PM PST. Boom goes the dynamite." It's accompanied by the image you see above, which states, "It's going to be explosive."

Beyond that, there's zero indication as to what this pertains to, be it Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain or something else entirely. (Perhaps the Metal Gear Collection that was teased earlier this week?) We'll update this story with whatever it turns out to be.

Let us know what your guess is in the comments below.

Chris Pereira is a freelance writer for GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @TheSmokingManX
For all of GameSpot's news coverage, check out our hub. Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com
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Date: Friday, 12 Sep 2014 17:45

Now that PlayStation 4 racing game Driveclub has gone gold ahead of its October 7 release date, Evolution Studios director Paul Rustchynsky has revealed a number of pre-launch details about the game in a series of Twitter posts. Perhaps most notable is the fact that it will take up 17 GB on your hard drive.

That figure is for both the standard version and the "free" version for PlayStation Plus subscribers, he says. Rustchynsky's comments suggest that the file size could have been even larger, as he remarks that Evolution "managed to compress" the game to 17 GB.

Rustchynsky also responded to a fan who called out Evolution Studios for making games that have long loading times. This person said if loading times for Driveclub are less than 15 seconds, he'll eat copies of a Motorstorm game. Rustchysnky replied by saying loading times should only be about 10 seconds for Driveclub.

In addition, Rustchynsky confirms that Driveclub will be available for pre-loading, and that, although players won't be able to customize their drivers, you will not be forced to play as an entirely generic character.

"There are a selection of predefined drivers, both male and female, which span a range of skin tones," he says.

One fan also asked about why Driveclub doesn't offer split-screen. Rustchysnky explains, "It's something we get asked about a lot, & I wish it was as easy as just downgrading the graphics, but it's a lot more complicated."

For more on Driveclub, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch

For all of GameSpot's news coverage, check out our hub. Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Date: Friday, 12 Sep 2014 17:30

You'll have the chance to see whether the 3DS version of the new Super Smash Bros. is for you in just a week's time, as Nintendo today announced a playable demo will be released in North America next Friday, September 19.

This information comes by way of today's Nintendo live stream. The demo consists of the same content seen in the recent Japanese demo release; there are five characters (Mario, Link, Pikachu, Villager, and Mega Man) and the Battlefield stage. The demo includes support for local multiplayer and, like other Nintendo demos, can be opened no more than 30 times.

It's possible you'll get the chance to play the game even sooner than next week. Club Nintendo members who reached Platinum status between July 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014, have registered 3DS hardware of software, and have elected to receive Club Nintendo emails will be sent an email today granting them four codes for early access to the demo.

If you're not a Platinum member you're not completely out of luck for today: we'll be livestreaming the game today at 2PM PT (5PM ET/10PM BST). You can watch that right here.

Super Smash Bros. for 3DS launches in North America on October 3. The Wii U version launches sometime later this year. Check out a full list of confirmed characters (including some we learned about through a leak) right here.

Chris Pereira is a freelance writer for GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @TheSmokingManX
For all of GameSpot's news coverage, check out our hub. Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com
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Date: Friday, 12 Sep 2014 17:27

Super Smash Bros. isn't coming out until October 3, but we're going to be livestreaming the game this Friday, September 12. Just bookmark this page and come back at 2PM PT (5PM ET/10PM BST) to watch us play Smash on 3DS for an hour in the video embed above.

And if an hour isn't enough, we'll have even more news the week after the stream. Smash Bros. comes out on Sept. 13 in Japan, and we'll be going in-depth with that version as soon as we get it in the office.

The Japanese version of the game comes out tomorrow, but lucky early-purchases have already been streaming the game and confirming the complete game roster. (All those rumors? Most of them were true, including Bowser Jr. and the Duck Hunt dog.) And the special edition Smash Bros. 3DS that was recently confirmed for the EU may make its way to the US as well.

But in the meantime, what do you want to see on our Friday livestream? Send us match-up requests, questions, and snide remarks through the comments below.

For all of GameSpot's news coverage, check out our hub. Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Date: Friday, 12 Sep 2014 17:18

Blizzard will amend the value of two major Hearthstone cards as the company continues to balance its popular collectable card game.

From September 22, the game will be patched to introduce two key changes:

  • Leeroy Jenkins will cost 5 mana (up from 4)
  • Starving Buzzard will cost 5 mana (up from 2) and will have 3 Attack and 2 Health (up from 2 Attack and 1 Health)

These changes, though subtle at face value, will have a significant impact on players who rely on certain combos and card-generation tactics for victory.

Those who play as Valeera, for example, can potentially chain three Leeroy Jenkins attacks in a single move, which means they can theoretically drain 18 health in a ten-mana combo. There are additions to this combo that can potentially take the total damage up even higher. Such a technique is no longer possible with a five-mana Leeroy.

Meanwhile, those who play as Rexxar can play a two-mana Starving Buzzard, and when throwing out another card (Unleash The Hounds) at three mana, can pick up as many as six new cards. This is still possible with the new changes, but cannot be done so early in the game.

Blizzard said it was aware of these issues when discussing the changes on the Battle.net forums.

"Fighting for board control and battles between minions make an overall game of Hearthstone more fun and compelling, but taking 20+ damage in one turn is not particularly fun or interactive.

"This was occurring when Leeroy was used in combination with other cards like Power Overwhelming, Faceless Manipulator, Cold Blood, Shadowstep, and Unleash the Hounds, among others.

"The amount of cards Starving Buzzard allowed Hunter players to draw ultimately ended up being too excessive for its low cost. This change will allow the Hunter’s opponent more time to react to both the Starving Buzzard and the cards drawn by its power."

Blizzard did not announce any changes to another controversial set of cards, known within the community as the "Zoolock," though the team has previously said it is looking into that particular set of cards.

Rob Crossley is GameSpot's UK News Editor - you can follow him on Twitter here
For all of GameSpot's news coverage, check out our hub. Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Date: Friday, 12 Sep 2014 17:15

[UPDATE] The stream is now underway and you can watch it through Twitch right here in this post. Expect to see live gameplay for a host of upcoming Wii U and 3DS games. And don't forget, GameSpot is hosting its own live-streaming event today for Super Smash Bros. for 3DS starting at 2 PM PDT.

The original story is below.

Nintendo announced today that it will hold a special "Live @ the Treehouse" video presentation this Friday, September 12, where the company will show off the "final" version of Super Smash Bros. for 3DS. The game officially launches in under a month on October 3.

Also during the event, which will span eight hours, Nintendo will talk about and show off unspecified upcoming Wii U and 3DS games. Unfortunately, that's all Nintendo had to say about the event. Other major Wii U and 3DS games scheduled for release this year include Bayonetta 2, Hyrule Warriors, the Wii U version of Super Smash Bros., and Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire remakes, among others.

The presentation will be streamed live through Twitch, though a start time was not announced. Last week, Nintendo announced a special Super Smash Bros.-themed game sale, which is currently ongoing.

"Treehouse" is the name of Nintendo of America's development shop in Redmond, Washington. If this Friday's presentation follows the formula of similar events from E3, you can expect members of Nintendo's press team to talk about and play games with developer commentary.

Nintendo's Live @ the Treehouse video presentations are often more informal than the company's marquee Nintendo Direct briefings.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch

For all of GameSpot's news coverage, check out our hub. Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Date: Friday, 12 Sep 2014 17:13
The PlayStation Vita (rear) and PlayStation Vita Slim

Despite not being featured during Sony's E3 press conference in June, the PlayStation Vita is currently enjoying improved sales, and Sony has no intention of letting its handheld fall by the wayside.

That's according to Sony UK boss Fergal Gara, who told Eurogamer, "It's trucking along. It's currently in year-on-year growth and enjoying a healthy year, and it's about to hit its biggest and potentially most powerful release of the year, which is Minecraft. That could be an extraordinary release for Vita."

Minecraft launched recently on PlayStation 4, and on PS3 last year, where it's remained the console's top-selling digital game in the US every month since its release. Although it's several years old at this point, the game's power shouldn't be underestimated--its PS4 release looks to have been the cause of PlayStation Network issues on the day it hit the PlayStation Store.

"[W]hat we are excited by is the number of games we can take to the platform that have been created for other platforms" -- Fergal Gara

Even without Minecraft, the PS4 has given somewhat of a boost to the Vita's "robust and consistent" sales, according to Gara. "We're seeing a bit of reflected glory from PS4," he said. "So there is a traction in Remote Play, and we see the numbers there." There have been rumors of a PS4 and Vita bundle happening; Sony, for its part, has said it thinks the prospect is interesting and hasn't ruled out the possibility.

Gara says the Vita's recent sales bump isn't due entirely to the PS4. "It's just found its niche," he said. "It's not the biggest niche in the world, and we've been fairly open about talking about it entered a crowded landscape with many other devices providing some sort of handheld fulfillment. But for those who want that more specialist device and a more specialist experience, it does a damn good job, and therefore it trucks along quite nicely."

The Vita's focus has shifted greatly since its launch on 2012, when Sony positioned it as a handheld that offered console-style games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss. More recently, it's become the place for Remote Play and indie games. Gara suggested we're not likely to see Uncharted or Killzone on Vita again, "[b]ut what we are excited by is the number of games we can take to the platform that have been created for other platforms." He cited Minecraft and Lego Batman 3 as examples of such games.

That we might not see a lot of big, triple-A games on Vita shouldn't come as a surprise, given that Sony has already said the economics of those types of games don't work on Vita.

Earlier this year, Sony launched the first hardware revision of the Vita, introducing a lighter system with better battery life that lacks the OLED-powered screen from the original version. You can read our review of that system here.

Chris Pereira is a freelance writer for GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @TheSmokingManX
For all of GameSpot's news coverage, check out our hub. Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com
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Date: Friday, 12 Sep 2014 15:49

The rumors were right. Today, Microsoft officially announced a new blue Xbox 360 system bundle featuring the biggest hard drive ever for the console and two free games.

Just as a leaked Wal-Mart ad scan indicated, the $250 special edition bundle includes a 500 GB blue system, matching blue controller, one month of Xbox Live Gold, and copies of Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Call of Duty: Ghosts.

The system will be exclusive to Walmart, and has been announced only for the United States. It launches on October 7.

This was one of three new Xbox 360 bundles announced today. Another is the 500 GB Holiday Value Bundle (at left), which will be available at retailers nationwide next week. It includes everything mentioned above, only the console and controller are the standard black color.

Third, a new 4 GB Xbox 360 Kinect bundle coming exclusively to Target will include the system and the camera, as well as three games: Kinect Adventures, Kinect Sports, and Forza Horizon. This bundle will sell for $250, though a launch date was not announced.

The Xbox 360 was first released in November 2005, meaning this holiday season marks the console's ninth year on the market. The system has sold over 84 million units worldwide to date.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch

For all of GameSpot's news coverage, check out our hub. Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Date: Tuesday, 02 Sep 2014 08:49

Titanfall's sixth major update, which introduces a Titan-free Skirmish mode, is due to go live on Wednesday.

Updates to both the Xbox One and PC editions of the game will unlock the 8v8 mode, which removes both AI bots and Titans to create a more traditional first-person shooter mode.

Developer Respawn Entertainment announced the update on the game's official home page, where it also announced that Marked For Death is now a permanent game mode.

Marked For Death nominates one player as a high-value target for everyone else to eliminate, and has proven to be popular within the Titanfall community.

"When we first introduced Marked For Death, we were planning to rotate it out for another mode after a couple of weeks, but the enduring popularity of the mode convinced us to bring it on full-time," Respawn wrote.

Numerous other improvements, additions and tweaks are detailed on the Titanfall update notes found here. They include colorblind support, as well as the option to buy Burn Cards from the Black Market.

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Date: Tuesday, 02 Sep 2014 08:15

Hundreds of developers spanning the US and Europe have endorsed an open letter asking the games community to curb hate-speech and online abuse across social media sites like Twitter and Reddit.

The letter, written by the independent games designer Andreas Zecher, has been signed by hundreds of developers, AAA studios, and indies, including Rockstar North, Naughty Dog, Bungie, 343 Industries, Blizzard Entertainment, and Epic Games.

Support for Zecher's letter comes in the wake of a spate of personal attacks on games industry figures across social media. For instance, last week the games essayist Anita Sarkeesian was forced to vacate her home after receiving increasingly severe anonymous threats on Twitter.

Those who have backed the letter have done so independently, and not necessarily as representatives for the companies they work for.

“We believe that everyone, no matter what gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or religion has the right to play games, criticize games and make games without getting harassed or threatened,” reads Zecher's letter.

“It is the diversity of our community that allows games to flourish. If you see threats of violence or harm in comments on Steam, YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook or Reddit, please take a minute to report them on the respective sites.

“If you see hateful, harassing speech, take a public stand against it and make the gaming community a more enjoyable space to be in.”

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Date: Tuesday, 02 Sep 2014 04:54
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The father of Street Fighter Yoshinori Ono has revealed that developer Dimps is working on a new project with Capcom.

Earlier today, Ono tweeted that Capcom were recruiting new staff to work with Dimps studio for a "new FG." Dimps co-developed Street Fighter IV with Capcom, and was responsible for programming and balancing the game. The studio is no stranger to working on fighting games, having developed Street Fighter X Tekken and the Dragon Ball Z: Budokai series, among others.

Street Fighter V was teased by Ono during E3 this year, who tweeted that the game was still in its "early planning stages" and that more details would be shared "at a later date." The game has not yet been officially announced, although Capcom producer Tomoaki Ayano has said that the game might not be released until 2018.

Zorine Te is an associate editor at GameSpot, and you can follow her on Twitter @ztharli
For all of GameSpot's news coverage, check out our hub. Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com
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Date: Tuesday, 02 Sep 2014 00:37

Uncensored version of Left 4 Dead 2.

UPDATE: A Valve representative has issued the following statement to Kotaku Australia:

“We are delighted that the full version of Left 4 Dead 2 will be available to fans age 18+ in Australia,” Doug Lombardi said. “We are making plans to deliver that version to those who have already purchased the game. We will announce more details on that soon.”

The original story follows below.

The PC version of Valve's co-operative first-person shooter Left 4 Dead 2 has been reclassified in Australia, earning an R18+ rating, the highest possible classification rating for a video game in Australia.

As reported by the Kotaku Australia, the Australian Classification Board has stamped the game with an R18+ rating, which includes warnings for high impact violence, strong impact themes, and mild impact language. According to the site, Valve itself resubmitted the game for classification.

Left 4 Dead 2 was initially refused classification in Australia when it was first submitted in 2009, which made it illegal to sell, rent, or promote the title in the country. Valve appealed the decision before resubmitting both the uncensored and modified versions of the game for classification. The Australian-specific version of the game eventually earned an MA15+ rating, the highest possible classification rating for a video game available at the time. This version of the game removed decapitation, limb dismemberment, and fallen bodies faded away, which removed the option for players to cause post-mortem damage.

The refusal largely focused on the Board's interpretation of violence in Left 4 Dead 2, finding that "the game contains realistic, frenetic and unrelenting violence which is inflicted upon 'the Infected' who are living humans infected with a rabies-like virus that causes them to act violently."

The ruling went on to say, "However, it is the use of the 'melee' weapons such as the crowbar, axe, chainsaw and Samurai sword which inflict the most damage. These close in attacks cause copious amounts of blood spray and splatter, decapitations and limb dismemberment as well as locational damage where contact is made to the enemy which may reveal skeletal bits and gore."

Now that the game has been reclassified with an R18+ rating, it can be expected that these features will be implemented back into the Australian version of the game.

Zorine Te is an associate editor at GameSpot, and you can follow her on Twitter @ztharli
For all of GameSpot's news coverage, check out our hub. Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com
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Date: Monday, 01 Sep 2014 23:00
Get all the info on the New Nintendo 3DS models, and Sony reveals PS4 themes and release dates for games like Persona and Dragon Quest Heroes!
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