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World of Warcraft Patch 4.3 & Diablo III Updates from gamescom

The gamescom 2011 convention is underway in Cologne, Germany, and Blizzard Entertainment revealed new details about Diablo III and the next World of Warcraft content update (patch 4.3) currently in development. Here’s a quick summary of the news:

 

WORLD OF WARCRAFT – COMING IN PATCH 4.3

 

Transmogrification: The ethereals are setting up shop around Azeroth to offer adventurers their latest astonishing interdimensional service. The upcoming Transmogrification feature will let players customize the appearance of their gear like never before. For the full rundown on how it works, check out Blizzards recently posted blog: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/3309048#blog.

Void Storage: Now that players have a good reason to hang onto old gear, they’re going to need somewhere to store it all. With Transmogrification comes Void Storage, a long-term stash where players will be able to keep the items they just can’t seem to let go of. Those ethereals think of everything, don’t they? Read more about it here: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/3342240#blog.

Death to Deathwing: Alongside all this comes a whole lot of new content. The developers revealed that patch 4.3 will feature three new 5-player dungeons, setting the stage for the ultimate fight in Cataclysm: the final showdown against Deathwing himself. Patch 4.3 will include a whole new tier of raid content culminating in an epic boss encounter unlike anything players have yet experienced in World of Warcraft.

Raid Finder and More: We’re also working on a number of other new features, including a Raid Finder — a tool similar to the Dungeon Finder designed to match players looking for PUG-friendly raids — and some cool renovations for Azeroth’s traveling Darkmoon Faire.

 DIABLO III

 Inferno Mode: In addition to Normal, Nightmare, and Hell difficulty levels, Diablo III will feature a new difficulty mode called Inferno designed for players looking for the ultimate Diablo III challenge. Players will need to complete Hell and reach level 60 in order to play on this difficulty setting… and have access to the greater rewards that await.

 This piece of 3D street art depicting Diablo and the legions of the Burning Hells bursting forth from the streets of Cologne, created by artist Manfred Stader.

Alice: The Madness Returns

By Sean McQuillan

Developer: Spicy Horse

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Designer: American McGee

Platform(s): PC, Xbox 360, Playstation 3

Genre: Action-Adventure, Platform

Modes: Single-Player

 

Rating:  2/5 Buggy but Beautiful

 

Madness Returns picks up shortly after where the first Alice game left off.  Alice is free of Rutledge Asylum and is seeing a hypno-therapist by the name of Dr. Angus Bumby.  Alice is still coming to terms with the death of her family in the fire that engulfed her childhood home.  As she finds her madness returning, wink wink, she reenters Wonderland to find it once again corrupted.  Alice must take up the Vorpal blade once again as she cut her way through the twisted horrors of her mind to confront the source of its corruption.  All the while Alice must make friends of past enemies, depose the new self-proclaimed rulers of Wonderland, and heed the advice of her constant companion, the Cheshire Cat, as she holds onto what memories she has left.

Many feel as though Madness Returns is more of a port of the original Alice to a modern graphics engine.  While it’s true that the aesthetic remains the same, only with layers of beautiful polish, the story is better than ever.  The beautiful and twisted imagery of Wonderland guarantee a degree of replay value, as does the New Game + mechanic that would allow you to replay the game with all the weapons and upgrades of the previous playthrough.  One delightfully subtle touch is Alice’s dresses, which change depending on what part of Wonderland she’s in.  From the dystopian clockwork realm of the Mad Hatter, to the charnel decrepit realm of the Red Queen, Alice is always dressed the part.

The controls on the PC version feel very much like they were designed for a console controller.  With platforming making up the majority of the gameplay, you may find yourself remapping keys or springing for a gamepad.  One Madness Returns biggest flaws is in its buggy mechanics.  With a new lock on system for ranged  combat a step up from the card throwing of the original, far too often it will glitch and now allow you to unlock if the enemy fell into a bottomless pit.  The melee combat has taken more than a few pointers from the God of War series, and for the most part I feel it benefits from it.  Once again, the controls will feel more natural with a gamepad controller than a keyboard.

The platforming sections are just as good as ever, but often make Wonderland seem both expansive and empty.  Often times buggy collision can cause Alice to miss a jump, or pass straight through the walkway she’s on.  More than once I got stuck on a tricky platforming section because the camera decided to swing around me mid jump.

The story explores the motley cast of characters that populate American McGee’s delightful interpretation of Wonderland, and shows how they’ve changed since Alice’s departure and the new corruption.  Far too often however, the final showdowns with many of these characters is handled in a cut-scene leaving me pondering if the boss fight was simply not available unless the game were set on a harder difficulty.  The most drab sections, understandably, are the section where Alice explores the real world.  The transitions back to Wonderland are satisfyingly uncanny, and always signified for me the return to the fun.

With passable platforming, bugs, and average combat it’s hard to recommend this game to a broad audience.  If you have played the first Alice, or simply want to explore a visually stunning decent into madness, then you’ll enjoy this game.

Diablo III Beta Test Unveiled

SOURCE: BLIZZARD

 

with the upcoming launch of the Diablo® III beta test, the armies of the Burning Hells will march forth from their forgotten lairs to besiege the mortal realms anew.

To prepare for this renewed demonic invasion, the Blizzard Insider has secured an exclusive interview with Lead Content Designer Kevin Martens as he shares his thoughts and insight on Diablo® III’s upcoming beta test. So read on, and prepare yourself for the next chapter in the Diablo® saga.

Insider: Aside from the story elements, how are you tuning the game’s combat encounters?

Kevin Martens: We want the game’s difficulty to hit a range of “peaks” and “valleys” as the player progresses from battle to battle. During the “peaks”, the challenge level spikes and players will be tested to their limits. In the “valleys”, the difficulty relaxes and players can build up their health and energy again. From a gameplay standpoint, valleys are important because they allow players to learn and experiment with their abilities without too much fear of failure or death. It’s the skills and techniques developed during the valleys that enable players to survive the peaks, which tend to be much tougher encounters, like ambushes, large groups, rare monsters, or even bosses. The peaks will require players to think quickly, spend their resources carefully, and move around the battlefield to avoid getting surrounded.

Read the Full Interview

Over $1.9 Million Raised for Japan Earthquake Relief Through Cenarion Hatchling Sales

 Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of World of Warcraft players around the world, Blizzard raised a total of more than $1.9 million USD to support the ongoing earthquake and tsunami relief efforts in Japan.

 In May, Blizzard announced that for every Cenarion Hatchling pet purchased by July 31, 2011, 100% of the $10 USD adoption fee would be going to assist victims of this disaster — and the community responded by opening their hearts and wallets wide.   

 The generous spirit shown by the World of Warcraft community continues to inspire and humble Blizzard.

Vampire Romance” and “Around the World in 80 Days” level up to “Extended Editions”

Two new titles in the HdO Adventure Collection are being updated as “Extended Edition” versions with all-new content. Designed for the occasional gamer, fan of adventure and hidden-object games, the HdO Adventure collection includes over 18 titles adapted from great literary classics.

After the release of “Profiler – Extended Edition” in mid-July, it’s now time for “Vampire Romance” and “Around the World in 80 Days” to get the “Extended Edition” treatment.

As a quick reminder, these new versions give players an extended gaming experience, as character lifespans are doubled and new gaming features become available (such as parallax scrolling, new interfaces etc.). The player will also discover previously unreleased puzzles and mini-games (such as Match 3, sliding blocks etc.). Another great new feature is the Game Center, providing players with an additional challenge and allowing them to share their scores with other users.
Vampire Romance: A love story in the heart of Paris.

Leïla Saraostre, a young foreigner, arrives in the Montmartre district of Paris to study Fine Arts at the Louvre Art School. Here, she meets Uriel Ruthven, an enigmatic young man and Leïla quickly falls under the spell of his charm. He starts showing her all the sights in the City of Light (the Trocadero, the Champs Elysées, the banks of the Seine, the Père Lachaise cemetery etc.) before mysteriously disappearing…

Around the World in 80 Days: Jules Verne’s masterpiece in 3D

The gauntlet has been thrown down – Phileas Fogg, a very English gentleman, must complete a trip around the world in 80 days. He takes Passepartout, his domestic, with him on his adventure. But Fix, a police inspector on the hunt for the Bank of England’s most successful thief in history, sets out to follow Fogg, believing him to be the perpetrator of this crime.

Of course, “Vampire Romance – Extended Edition” and “Around the World in 80 Days – Extended Edition” are available in French, English, Italian, German and Spanish (EFIGS).

These two video games are available on the AppStore, the Mac AppStore and on all major download platforms from July 25 2011

Diablo III Auction House

Source: us.blizzard.com

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Diablo III Auction House Overview

introducing a powerful auction house system that will provide a safe, fun, and easy-to-use way for players to buy and sell the loot they obtain in the game. Items can be sold and purchased using real-world money or in-game gold.

An Easier Way To Trade

Sure, slaying monsters, demons, and cultists is a surefire way to obtain a ton of random new loot in Diablo III, but with the new auction house feature, it’ll be easier than ever to gear up your character with the exact items you’re looking for. You can also post the items you don’t need for players who are desperately searching for what you’ve got!

 
 Don’t Need It? Put It Up For Auction!
Nearly everything found in the game, including gold, can be exchanged with other players directly or through the auction house system. So say you’re a witch doctor and you’ve just found an incredibly rare, incredibly powerful axe that only barbarians can use. In the previous Diablo games your best option might have been to sell the axe to an in-game vendor, but in Diablo III, you now have the ability to list that axe in the auction house for your fellow barbarian players to bid on. And you know another player will probably appreciate the true value of that axe more than some heartless vendor who’ll likely just melt it down for scrap….
 
 Amazing Search Functionality
The auction house’s “smart search” functionality can automatically sort items in the auction house based on which upgrades would be most beneficial to your character. Also, searching for the best gear for multiple characters on the same Battle.net account can be done all from the same interface without having to log out.
 
  The Choice Is Yours
Use of either the real-money or gold-based auction house is completely optional — that decision can be made on a per-item basis, and both versions of the auction house are functionally the same. In addition, players have the option to simply sell the items they obtain to in-game vendors for gold. They can also trade items to other players through a direct character-to-character trading system in the game in exchange for gold, other items, or just an overwhelming sense of goodwill.
 
 Players Only
Blizzard does not plan to post items for sale in the auction house. The driving purpose of the auction house is to provide players with a fun additional in-game option for what they do with the items they obtain in the game. Items sold in the auction house will be posted by players and purchased by players.
 
 Safe and Sanctified
The real-money auction house provides players with an easy-to-use, Blizzard-sanctioned way to collect money for items they obtain while playing Diablo III. It also helps protect players from the scams and theft often associated with questionable third-party sites by providing a secure, completely in-game method for purchasing and obtaining the items they want for their characters.
 
 Faster Than A Seven-Sided Strike
Sellers can post items for auction from any of the Diablo III characters on their Battle.net account, or from their shared stash (extra inventory space accessible with any of the characters on their account), without logging out. And after a buyer has won an auction, the item will become immediately available to be equipped and put to good use in the ongoing struggle against the forces of the Burning Hells.