Rumor: Half-Life 2: Episode 3 in the Works?

An interesting and exciting thread appeared yesterday on the fan created site ValveTime.net, claiming that they had found supposed concept art for the next installment in the Half-Life series.  Although sent in by an anonymous user from an unnamed source, the art does fit with the Half-Life concept art style and contains elements that could hint towards a Half-Life sequel.  For example one piece is a drawing of what appears to be Alyx wearing Eli’s jacket, and in another piece the helicopter from the end of Episode 2 turns up crashed in an arctic setting.  ValveTime claims that these images are the real deal, however there is no hard evidence suggesting that it is indeed from Valve themselves.  I guess all we can do for now is hope that this isn’t some scam, and that this concept art is indeed legitimate. Be sure to check out some of the images below, and head over to ValveTime’s Gallery (link posted below) to see all of the concept art. What do you think? Could we possibly be looking at the makings of Half-Life 2: Episode 3? Be sure to comment below and let us know what you think, and stay tuned to Updownright for all the latest on this rumor and other gaming news.

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The next Gordon Freemon?

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The First of Seven: Max Payne 3 DLC out July 3rd

Rockstar announced yesterday that the first downloadable content pack for their noir inspired game Max Payne 3 will release next week on consoles.  Titled Local Justice, this downloadable content will come out on the Xbox Live marketplace and Playstation Network on July 3rd, with a following release for the PC on July 17th.

Three new maps come with this DLC; the 55th Batallion HQ, Imperial Palace, and Departure Lounge.  The 55th Batallion HQ map will be playable on all game modes, while the Imperial Palace and Departure Lounge maps will only be playable on Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Payne Killer.  Furthermore this new DLC pack comes with a new weapon, the M4 assault rifle, a new item called Light Fingers which makes looting faster, and the Sao Paulo police faction, complete with avatar customization.

Originally set to release in June, the Local Justice DLC will be at a discounted price during launch week as an “appreciation of patience.”  During this time the Local Justice DLC will run for 480 MS points (6$) on Xbox Live, and 6$ on Playstation Network and PC.  After the week though, the content will return to its normal price of 640 MS points ($8) on Xbox Live and $8 on Playstation Network and PC.  Additionally the Local Justice pack and all other DLC content for Max Payne 3 can also be purchased through the Rockstar Pass program.  Currently this pass is available for 2400 MS points ($30) on Xbox Live and $30 on PSN and PC.

This new DLC for Max Payne 3 is the first of seven planned add-ons for the game.  Due out later this summer is the Disorganized Crime map pack, the Deathmatch Made in Heaven mode pack, the Hostage Negotiation map pack, and the New York Minute co-op pack.  Coming out sometime later this fall will be the Painful Memories map pack and the Trickle Down Economics map pack.  In short there’s a lot coming to Max Payne 3 making this a title that refuses to slow down.  Be sure to check out our review of the game and stay tuned to Updownright for all the latest in gaming news.

Far Cry 3 Delayed Until December

Ubisoft announced this past Monday that Far Cry 3 has been delayed until the holiday season. Originally announced to be released early in September, this highly anticipated title has been pushed back until November 28th for the UK and December 4th for the U.S. According to producer Dan Hay, the team decided to delay the game because they want to take “more time to create the best possible gameplay experience.”

As of this moment Far Cry 3 is the only title scheduled for December, however this new release date could potentially hurt its sales. Originally slated to be released in September, the only other close by first person shooter was Borderlands 2, which releases on September 18. With this December 4th release date, Far Cry 3 now comes out after Halo 4 (11/6/2012) and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (11/13/2012), which are two highly anticipated and competitive titles. What do you think, does Far Cry 3 stand a chance in the sales against these highly popular titles? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to check out the Far Cry 3 preview to see what we think of this upcoming title.

U.S. History Just Got a Bit More Interesting – A Preview of Assassin’s Creed III

U.S. History was always a subject I could never really quite get that into.  I mean I consider myself to be quite the history buff.  I love ancient history and world, but for some reason the Battles of Lexington and Concord or the signing of the Declaration never really resonated with me as much as say the battle of Thermopylae or discovering the Rosetta Stone.  Maybe call me un-patriotic or what have you, but I just never really found our nations history to be that riveting or exciting.  That is, until now.

In Assassin’s Creed III, the next installment to the critically acclaimed Assassin’s Creed series, the on going war between the Assassins and Templars has been moved from the dense and rich European cities to the vast and open American frontier.  Taking place over the course over 30 years, the story is before, during, and after the American Revolution.  Unfortunately the sauve yet badass Ezio will not be making the long trip to American shores, however we are introduced to a new character and lead, Ratonhnhaké:ton or better known as Connor.  Half Native American and half British, Connor is conflicted on whom to fight for, however it is this conflict that makes the story.  This is Connor’s story and how he became a part of the Assassin order and how he becomes a part of the fight in the American Revolution.  Along the way Connor will encounter numerous historical figures such as George Washington, Ben Franklin, Charles Lee, and others, ensuring that history is still a staple aspect of the series.

In an interview with CVG (computerandvideogames.com) Ubisoft president Yves Guillemot stated that this Assassin’s game “will be the biggest to date,” and from what’s been revealed so far it certainly appears to be that way.  Ubisoft Montreal is returning yet again to spearhead this latest installment in the Assassin’s Creed series, so it should be of no surprise then that a lot of the same elements seen from previous Assassin’s Creed games will be returning, however they have been totally revamped and made a new, creating a fresher and new take to the Assassin’s Creed formula.

The combat has been totally redone and a new controller scheme has been created for this upcoming title.  In being a new assassin Connor now always fights dual handed.  According to creative director Alex Hutchinson, the brand new controller scheme “allows you continual access to tools such as pistols on one button, as well as maintaining access to your core weapon, such as the hidden blade.”  This creates a more fluid control when it comes to combat making Connor not only easier to handle, but also making him look extremely graceful and badass when it comes to killing.  Since the game takes place during the American Revolution guns have become a bigger threat in this Assassin’s game as opposed to past.  According to Hutchinson “firing lines are a key feature of the period and we’ve integrated them into both combat and pre-combat, to give the player different opportunities such as the meat-shield.”  Countering is still a huge aspect when it comes to combat.  Enemies now attack in unison generating a new and stylish “duel counter” and according to Hutchinson after you counter an enemy “you have a choice of what to do, whether to assassinate, dodge, or throw them.”  They call this a “window of opportunity,” which creates a new and refreshing taste when it comes to combat.  On top of this the assassinations have also been totally redone.  In being a new assassin Connor can now assassinate with any weapon, and can also perform “running assassinations,” giving off this impression that Connor is always on the move.

The biggest and most intriguing change with Assassin’s Creed III however is the environment and animation.  The dense gridded cities that always made up the scenery in past Assassin’s games are gone, and has instead been replaced by the vast and open American frontier.  This change of surroundings has lead to a totally redone parkour and navigation system that has always been a staple part of the series.  Tree navigation is the newest and most significant addition to the overall navigation system.  According to Hutchinson tree navigation “allows Connor to deal with forests, cliffs, uneven surfaces as fluidly and smoothly as previous Assassin’s dealt with cities.”  The team at Ubisoft Montreal is “trying very hard to keep natural shapes, organic surfaces, to make believable terrain” according to Hutchinson.  The environment is no longer gridded with square surfaces, and Connor can now grab onto all sorts of different shapes and objects.  “You can go anywhere.  Anything you see that has a handhold that’s climbable is climbable, and we really highlight the areas where you can’t go,” says Hutchinson.  This new navigation system not only brings a fresh take on how to traverse and travel throughout the environment, but it is also a major leap in gaming animation.

With this new environment it opens the door to a whole new type of gameplay.  Seasons such as winter and summer are now implemented in the game, and both have their own unique effects on Connor.  For instance during the winter, snow slows Connor down encouraging him to climb and stay off of the ground.  This introduction of the frontier has also introduced wildlife to the series.  “There are over 200 different species of animal in the game,” says Hutchinson and they all offer unique opportunities or threats to Connor.  Although the vast frontier has replaced the populated city, cities or rather colonies will still play an important role in Assassin’s Creed III.  Colonies such as New York and Boston will be central areas in the game, and will offer a different take on gameplay as opposed to the wilderness.  With two virtually different atmospheres to explore, the environment in Assassin’s Creed III will be a refreshing take to not only the series but also action adventure games in general.

Hutchinson and the team at Ubisoft Montreal truly believe that they “have the most robust third person character in action games today,” and from what’s been seen and revealed so far they just might.  If anything can be said, they for sure have the most robust third person character in any Assassin’s Creed game to date, and this title is definitely shaping up to be the best in the series.  With super tight animation, a new combat scheme and navigation system, this is one title that for sure needs to be on your radar when it comes out later this fall on October 30th.  Be sure to check out the gameplay video and let us know what you think, and stay tuned to updownright for all the latest on this highly anticipated title.

The New Face of War – Warface Preview

Imagine if top rated shooters like Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 were free to play? It would be pretty unbelievable and I’m sure gamers everywhere would rejoice to the fact that they wouldn’t have to drop $60.00 in order to save the world from terrorists. I’m speaking hypothetically here of course; something like this could never happen, right?

Well, it turns out something like this is going to happen, and it’s called Warface.

In development by Crytek studios, the team behind the various Crysis games as well as the amazing CryEngine gaming engines, Warface is a new first person shooter MMO being developed for the PC. It should be of no surprise then that Warface will feature some stellar next gen graphics. Crytek has already announced that the game will run on the new CryEngine 3, however no need to worry if your system can’t handle this new gaming engine. According to Jack DeVries, an associate editor over at IGN, Crytek has “developed Warface to use as low system reqs as possible. Anyone with at least a 2 Ghz processor and 1 GB of RAM should be able to war all the faces they can handle.”

Warface is a military shooter set in the near future. I know, sounds like every other military themed shooter that has come out within the past few years, however Warface is different. It is a strict multiplayer game that will feature your typical PvP (player vs. player) game modes such as deathmatch and bomb defuse scenarios, however what separates Warface from other shooters is its co-op play, or also known as PvE matches (player vs. environment). According to DeVries, “every day Crytek loads new missions to complete using the game’s random mission generation. All of the co-op missions feature moments where you have to use teamwork. If there’s a huge armored enemy blocking a bridge, chances are there’s a way for you to boost your partner over a ledge somewhere and sneak around behind him while the rest of the squad distracts the enemy.” This new co-op play is a refreshing take on the multiplayer experience, and with new missions being generated everyday the experience will never grow old.

Like Call of Duty, Warface will also feature their own system of perks and rewards. According to IGN’s PC executive editor Charles Onyett, “to enhance your performance, you’ll be able to equip special items like silent shoes that muffle your footsteps, boots that allow you to pass by claymore mines without triggering them, and other items lengthen sprint times.” Furthermore there will also be weapon customization and upgrades, which you can earn by completing the daily missions, and specific class sets such as soldiers and medics.

There is one final difference that separates Warface from other shooters, and if you didn’t catch on to it at the beginning of this article then I’ll reveal it now in clearer terms. Warface will be a completely free-to-play shooter. Yes, you read that correctly, I kid you not. Warface is supported by a free-to-play model and you can already reserve your screen name on the official website.

Already live in China and Russia and receiving critical acclaim, Warface is shaping up to be a very promising online shooter. With amazing next gen graphics and a free to play model in place, Warface looks to be a top contender in the realm of online shooters. I guess we will all know for sure when it is released in the states later this year.

Time to be humble: Humble Bundle V out now!

Humblebundle.com is an extremely unique site, and if you haven’t heard of it now’s the time.  Humblebundle.com is a website that releases Humble Indie Bundles, which consists of a series of games all packaged into one.  The games within the bundle are multi-platform (Mac, Windows, or Linux), DRM (Digital Rights Management) free, independently developed, and did I forget to mention that you get to name your own price?  Yes, you read that correctly, you pay what you want and the best part is your helping charity while you do it.  You get to choose exactly how your purchase is divided, either between the developers of the games, the Child’s Play Charity, or the Electronic Frontier Foundation.   So in the end, whichever way you go, your supporting someone just by purchasing this amazing package.

As of right now the team at Humble Bundle is on their fifth bundle package, and boy is it a great collection.  Like the title says, in the “Humble Indie Bundle V” you get five classic and critically acclaimed games.  These being: Bastion, Amensia: The Dark Descent, Psychonauts, LIMBO, and Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP.  Furthermore you receive all of the games soundtracks with your purchase, as an added bonus.  In order to receive Bastion however, customers have to pay more then the average price, which is currently set at $7.86.

So what are you waiting for?  This exceptional bundle of games could be yours for only $7.86, let alone your purchase will be supporting some charity depending on how you distribute it.  Sounds like quite the steal if you ask me, so why not?  Be Humble.

Welcome to the Jungle – Far Cry 3 Preview

An adventure.  The one thing everyone strives to have in their life, and what better way to have an adventure then taking the quintessential backpacking trip in another country.  In Far Cry 3 you assume the role of Jason Brody.  An “everyman” setting out on a backpacking adventure with three of your friends on a remote and luscious island situated somewhere between the Indian and Pacific Oceans.  However, this is not a normal island, and soon after you disembark you find yourself fighting for your life in order to save yours and others from the crazed inhabitants of this tropical paradise.

Ubisoft Montreal, the team behind the various Assassin’s Creed games as well as Far Cry 2, takes the lead for Far Cry 3.  It should be of no surprise then that a lot of the same elements that were in Far Cry 2 will be present in Far Cry 3.  It’s still an open world sandbox game that has structured story missions; however as in past games there will be a heavy emphasis on exploration.  A 360-degree approach to missions will also be seen, making it a “your battle your way type of game.”  If you want to approach an enemy encampment through stealth and pick off each enemy one by one you can; or if you’d rather go in guns a blazing you can do that too.  There is no limit to what you can do in this game, and according to an interview with Gametrailers.com, Mark Thompson the level design director stated that “the tools are not the limitation.  It’s you as a player.  It’s your choice.”

What’s most intriguing about Far Cry 3 however, are the psychological aspects of the game and the island itself.  In a recent interview with Gamespot.com, lead writer Jeffrey Yohalem stated that they “want a game that directly relates to the player on a psychological and social level.”  All of these issues are explored within the game and the island itself instigates all of them.  According to Yohalem “the characters all represent different levels of psychology.”  So far we have only been introduced to two characters; Vaas, the insane pirate terrorist bent on killing everyone, and Dr. Earnhardt, the crazy doctor that sends you into caves to find shrooms.  Each character is a product of the insanity the island creates.  Their personalities are a result of their lives on the island, and this could very well represent the transformation that Jason will undergo.

Each character Jason meets also represents a different take on a mission.  With Vaas for example you are in a kill or be killed situation.  His missions will focus more on the shooting elements of the game for example, whereas with Dr. Earnhardt his missions will be more focused on the exploration aspects of the game.  This creates a lot of variety within the game, and represents that no two missions will ever be the same.

Multiplayer can also be found within the game.  As opposed to past multiplayer shooters where there can be a heavy emphasis on the lone wolf type of play style, Far Cry 3 tries to break that mold by having a heavy emphasis on team play.  In an interview with Gametrailers.com, game designer Daniel Berlin, stated that the team “set out to create a set of core team play features with interaction that would funnel through the entire experience.”  One of these features for example is the battle cry, which is used to buff your teammates either by giving them faster reload time or quicker health regeneration.  According to Berlin these team play features “give you a team play resource, and then you can spend it and call in the heavy ordinance, the real cool stuff, which we call the team support.”  Some of these ordinance packages range from a UAV to a hallucinogen drop causing opponents caught in the gas to perceive everyone as enemies.  The map/level editor from Far Cry 2 will also be making a return giving players the opportunity to create their own maps or play on other custom ones.

Far Cry 3 is aiming to be the “definitive shooter.”  According to Yohalem it “will be about what shooting is about, and we want to close the issue on some level.  That once you’d play Far Cry 3 you will have dealt with what it means to kill people using a gun in a video game.”  Far Cry 3 is an ambitious and bold game that is creating something new in the FPS genre.  With an engaging story littered with insane characters that hit at a strong psychological aspect, and a robust multiplier that offers a fresh take on multiplayer, Far Cry 3 is well on it’s way to being the one all be all first person shooter.  I guess we will all know for sure when it comes out later this year on September 4th.