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StarCraft II Logo

So, if you haven't heard, Blizzard Entertainment launched the worldwide beta test for StarCraft II, one of the most anticipated games of all time. Along with testing StarCraft II, gamers will get a chance to try out Battle.net 2.0, which will be integrated into all Blizzard games going forward.

It's been a long wait for the beta, which we thought had been ready to go last summer around BlizzCon 2009, but it was eventually delayed while work continued on Battle.net 2.0. At the end of January, we visited Blizzard to get our hands on the beta build and sit down with some very important people at Blizzard.

First up, Greg Canessa, lead designer on Battle.net 2.0, talks at length about the three design pillars of Battle.net 2.0, support for map and mod-makers, eSports plans, and drops some exciting details about the Leagues & Ladders system. Hint: there will be a pro-league that only the best of the best can compete in that comes with special privileges and responsibilities.

 

StarCraft II Beta Interview - Greg Canessa »


 

Next, lead designer Dustin Browder talks about the launch of the beta, the game's current balance, and how he expects there to be more testing within the first few days of the beta than the last 4 years internally at Blizzard.

StarCraft II Beta Interview - Dustin Browder »


 

Be sure to jump through to see a combo-interview with Rob Pardo, executive VP of game design, and Chris Sigaty, lead producer of StarCraft II, as they talk about the future of Battle.net 2.0 and the beta.

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In development at Obsidian Entertainment, Fallout: New Vegas will give gamers even more franchise action, but the question is: will it deliver the same amount of quality as Fallout 3? Go ahead, watch the teaser. We'll come back and discuss!

Fallout: New Vegas Debut Trailer »


New Vegas comes out this fall for the PlayStation 3, 360 and PC.

What do you think about the look? It didn't really look like what I'd expect from Fallout. It reminded me a lot of Borderlands. Could this signify a shift in art style or will this look be exclusive to pre-rendered trailers?  Why are the Helghast from Killzone watching over the Vegas strip? Why is the strip lit up in the post-apocalyptic world of Fallout?

Discuss!






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It's no secret that certain genres of video game excel on particular platforms. First-person shooters rock on the Xbox 360, RTS games shine on the PC, and puzzle games have found a comfortable home on the DS. I'm here to talk about a genre on a platform that you might not expect to be all that great. Let's look at fighting games on the PSP!

The PSP seems like it would be hindered from the outset for fighting games; it's got two less buttons than most platforms and the analog nub isn't the best around. However, the d-pad is extremely useable for fighters and cranking out a quick fight or two is perfect for gaming on-the-go. Let’s look at 3D and 2D separately…

3D Fighters

Tekken 6

3D Fighters work great on the PSP, but it wasn't until recently that developers got them running exceptionally well. In fact, Tekken 6 on the PSP is basically like playing the PS3/360 version on a tiny screen. Sure, you don't get true online play, but the game does support Ad Hoc multiplayer. It plays incredibly smoothly and as long as you ignore the Scenario mode (which you should, anyway) the game is basically identical to the next-gen releases. Well, it doesn't look as nice, but it plays great. Throw in the fact that Tekken works with 4 buttons and a very limited amount of complex directional inputs, it plays flawlessly on the PSP.

You May Also Like: Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny, Tekken 2 (PSOne Original)
Dream Game:
Virtua Fighter 5

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BlazBlue PortableThe PSP version of BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger, currently slated for release in Japan at the end of February, will be getting a US release in March! Happy day!

The game, which is already out in the US for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, will get some enhancements in its trip to the PSP. There will be an all-new "Legion" mode, which tasks gamers with capturing territory and recruiting new fighters to their army.

From the press release:

“Every frame of animation and hit box is painstakingly replicated from the original game, so all of your combos work without a hitch. It's really nice when you need your BB fix on the go," says Michael Manzanares, Project Lead. "And new Unlimited versions of your favorite characters don't hurt, either."

BlazBlue was one of my favorite fighting games last year, second only to Street Fighter IV, and I'm a big fan of fighting games on the PSP. Now all we need is for Aksys to announce a US console release for BlazBlue: Continuum Shift. If you just can't wait for Arc System Works fighting on your PSP, check out Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus, which is available now.

Announced at CES 2010, Microsoft will be bringing classic game emulation to the Xbox 360 and Windows PCs in Game Room. The service, which will be released this Spring, will initially have around 30 games available to purchase or play. At this point, Microsoft hopes to release 7 games a week with the final goal being over 1000 games available.  The Game Room is an actual 3D space for your avatar that can be customized and decorated. Your friends can even visit your personal arcade. If you don’t care for the virtual space, the entire experience can be navigated by menus.

Microsoft Game Room CES 2010 Announcement Trailer »


Initially, games will range from classic arcade titles to consoles titles from the Intellivision and Atari 2600. For a full list of the launch titles, skip to the end of this story. For pricing, the model is a bit different from anything Microsoft has done before on Live. For 40 MS Points or 50 cents, you’ll be able to play a game once. That’s right, just like dropping two quarters into an arcade machine, Microsoft will allow gamers to insert credits into these classic titles. It makes sense if you want to try a bunch of games before buying, in order to find something you like, but 50 cents a pop could add up before long.

If you want to purchase a game, it’s going to run you $3. This enables unlimited play and placement of the game in your arcade space. It won’t, however, allow you to play that same game on your Xbox 360 and PC. If you want cross-platform play, the price will kick up to $5, but will allow you play the game on any supported platform according to Microsoft’s Frank Pape, senior director on the project, which might not be limited to the 360 and PC, though no new platforms were announced at CES. If I had to speculate, I would look to Windows Mobile as a possible platform. Live was just announced for Windows handsets and it would give Microsoft some ground against Apple’s iPhone and its growing game library.

Keep reading for more on Game Room.

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My favorite part of CES 2010 is the fact that Super Street Fighter IV is playable. I've managed to put a good amount of time in with the game at this point so I think it's ready for some impressions. Won't you join me?

Before we get going, however, how about you watch all of the great video I shot off the screen at Capcom's SSFIV Fight Club last night?

CES Super Street Fighter IV Fight Club Part 1 »


For 2 more videos (35 minutes of footage!), check out this blog post… all caught up? Good!

Revealed at CES 2010, every character will be able to select from two different Ultra Combos. A lot of these are situational or useful for specific match-ups. Blanka, for example, has a new 2-in-1 Ultra, with one version that can be used as an anti-air/anti-cross-up and the other used for countering fullscreen fireballs. Chun-Li grabbed a non-charge fireball Ultra that can easily be setup after an EX Lightning Legs, which should help her rise up the tier list a bit.

Balrog has gained a 720-degree command throw Ultra, but I don't know where I stand on that yet. I primarily play Balrog so I have a vested interest in this. Zangief has one of the hardest Ultra setups in the game and Balrog's new attack uses the same motion. This means the new Ultra has to be buffered in a jump, Focus Attack, or on a whiffed dash punch. Compare this to Balrog's original Ultra, which is one of the easiest to hit in the game. The grab also has some start-up, so quick players can easily jump away, unlike Zangief's.

For more impressions, including how the new characters stack up and gameplay details on Ryu's awesome new Metsu Shoryuken Ultra, click the break.

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Hands-On With New MadCatz FightSticks At CES 2010

A quick visit to MadCatz's suite at CES 2010 yielded some hands-on time with the new Wii Tatsunoko vs. Capcom FightStick and new Super Street Fighter IV Tournament Edition sticks for the Xbox 360 and PS3.

First up, the Wii stick is based on the Standard Edition sticks released with Street Fighter IV. Functionally, it's the same, but the stick has gotten a nice weight boost over the other SE sticks. The stick will also connect directly into the Wiimote instead of plugging into the console. Unfortunately, this means that you'll have to find someplace to put the Wiimote while you play. A dock for the Wiimote would have been killer. If you're going to put any serious time into TvC, however, you'll probably want to grab this peripheral for $70.

Hit the break for impressions of the Super Street Fighter IV Tournament Edition FightStick.

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A new section of Mass Effect 2 was playable at CES 2010 and was also (sadly) my first time playing the game. Although my time was brief, I got a good sense of all of the improvements BioWare has made to the franchise.

I won't go over all of the new gameplay mechanics and changes as Patrick Klepek has already written an excellent preview, but I can give some details on the new quest I was able to play.

 

Mass Effect 2 Miranda Profile Trailer »


 

Shepard and two new teammates, Miranda and Jacob from Cerberus (vagueness intentional to avoid spoilers! Read Patrick's preview if you'd like to know more), have arrived at a medical facility to seek the help of the doctor in charge. To make matters more complicated, however, the facility seems to be suffering from a plague to which humans have a convenient immunity. This causes a bit of distrust among the aliens suffering from the plague. Many are not willing to accept help from Shepard.

Keep reading for more on Mass Effect 2.

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Nyko Wand+

Announced here at CES 2010, Nyko will be introducing Wand+, a new Wii remote with built-in MotionPlus support. The unit, which is the same size as their current third-party Wiimote, will release in March for a suggested $40, well below the cost of a Nintendo Wiimote and MotionPlus.

The big question: does it work?

Yes. As far as I can tell during my limited hands-on time with the Wand+ and Wii Sports Resort (Table Tennis), it works as well as Nintendo's own MotionPlus. The impressive part? This tech is built from scratch by Nyko and not licensed from Nintendo.

My only gripe is the D-Pad, which isn't as defined as the one on the official Nintendo Wiimote. Everything else works as well as the official thing and should present a low-cost option for gamers wishing to stock up to four Wiimotes with MotionPlus.

Should Nintendo publish a change to MotionPlus, Nyko will also be able to update the firmware on the Wand+, though it will require sending your controller back to Nyko for flashing.

Keep checking back for more from CES 2010 and be sure to follow me on Twitter @bleahy.

Check out more Nyko accessories in our photo gallery tour of Nyko's booth



Splinter Cell: Conviction Deniable-Ops

Almost one month ago, I traveled to San Francisco to play some of Splinter Cell: Conviction's prologue, which takes the form of a co-op story leading up to the events of Sam Fisher's story. I was extremely impressed and you can read my full impressions here in this preview.

Here at CES 2010, I was able to get some hands-on time with the Deniable Ops mode, which is the game's non-story-based multiplayer component. There are several modes, but I played through the first map in the "Hunter" game mode. This mode is a simple terrorist hunt mode that moves the player through several levels, eliminating a set number of enemies. If seen, enemies will call for reinforcements and the number of targets increases significantly.

Even on Normal difficulty, your character can only take a few bullets so stealth is definitely the way to play. This does not mean that the game is slow-paced. Far from it, in fact. With a bit of careful planning, marking targets, and using the shadows to confuse the enemies, it's quite possible to dispatch upwards of five enemies within seconds.

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Super Street Fighter IV Fight Club

US SFIV champion Justin Wong shows off new characters and Ultras with the tournament winner.

Last night, Capcom held their second annual CES Street Fighter IV Fight Club. This time, however, it was the upcoming Super Street Fighter IV that was on hand. Lucky community members and the gaming press were able to go hands-on with all of the currently announced characters as well as see all of the new Ultra Combos for all returning and new characters.

I also competed in the tournament. At stake, a brand-new Super Street Fighter IV Tournament Edition Fight Stick, a year of Xbox Live, and 8000 Microsoft points (put up by Microsoft's Major Nelson). How did I do? Well, I won my first match. I ended up losing in my second match to a very good Rufus player that managed to make the top 8.

As such, I only got to play a few rounds as Balrog. His new Ultra is called "Dirty Bull" and is a 720-degree command throw a la Zangief. It doesn't do that much damage, but is still being tweaked. Capcom special advisor Seth Killian tells me that it used to be overpowered. In its current stage, I don't know many Balrog players that would give up his current Ultra based on how easy it is to connect after a headbutt and its ability to go through fireballs.

I'll have an extended session with Super Street Fighter IV later today so I'll bring you guys full impressions later on. For now, you'll have to settle for a picture of me and producer Yoshinori Ono, found after the jump. Also, props to G4tv.com commenter GreedyMcNasty who attended and introduced himself at the event.

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Available today, Darksiders puts players in the role of War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, as he attempts to bring the perpetrator of Armageddon to justice. The game, often compared to a Zelda title, features some great combat, exploration, and item collection.

Won't you take a look?

Darksiders First 15 Gameplay Video »


 




With 2010 about to kick off, the G4tv.com and X-Play teams took a look at the games set to release (or are likely to) in the next year. What follows is a list of the top 5 most anticipated games for each editor. How will it compare to your personal list? Which games will live up to the hype? Which games are you looking forward to? Leave your list in the comments section.

Andrew Pfister -- Senior Games Editor

Super Mario Galaxy 2

We haven’t had a sequel to a proper Mario game come out on the same system since the NES days, and when we did, we got the great Super Mario Bros. 2 and the life-altering Super Mario Bros. 3. That’s why I’m excited for Mario Galaxy 2: the core concept has already been proven, and now the developers are free to dream up more spherical worlds and twists on classic Mario elements. If you couldn’t tell, Mario games are my happy place.

Red Dead Redemption

Red Dead Redemption

I’ve long wanted an MMO set in the American frontier, but until that happens, I’ll happily play in Red Dead Redemption’s offline sandbox. Rockstar San Diego is injecting a healthy dose of GTA into RDR, which hopefully means plenty of interesting characters, creative side missions, and exploration. I’ll be rewatching Deadwood in anticipation of its release, cursing furiously.

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With 2010 about to kick off, the G4tv.com and X-Play teams took a look at the games set to release (or are likely to) in the next year. What follows is a list of the top 5 most anticipated games for each editor. How will it compare to your personal list? Which games will live up to the hype? Which games are you looking forward to? Leave your list in the comments section.

Rob Manuel -- Associate Producer, X-Play

Last Guardian

The Last Guardian

Most gamers know Team Ico for their beautifully haunting landscapes, their quirky but always inspiring gameplay, and taking their sweet time producing their next masterpiece. A veil of mystery still surrounds The Last Guardian, a game that seemingly combines the companion aspect of Ico with the giant climbing action of Shadow of the Colossus. While the release date may slip into 2011, I will be patiently waiting to get back into a world that could only be designed by Team Ico.

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Super Street Fighter IV Character Select

The Japanese magazine Famitsu recently streamed some gameplay from Super Street Fighter IV and the character select screen was shown. No new characters were shown, but it does show four remaining spots for unannounced fighters. I have added the character names in white to help you guys out.

This would put the total number of new characters in SSFIV at 10, which is 2 over the "around 8" estimate given by producer Yoshinori Ono at Tokyo Game Show.

The three empty spots at the top of the screen are rumored to be Ibuki, Dudley, and Makoto from Third Strike. Curiously, the fourth spot, opposite on the screen from Juri, could potentially be another brand-new character. Why do I say this? Hit the jump for an interesting picture from the Shoryuken forums showing how the characters are organized.

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