Niagara Gazette

December 12, 2008

GAMING: Downloadable content revives old games


By LOU KESTEN

Associated Press Writer



Game News: Real news from the virtual world:

— EXTRA INNINGS: When you sell used games back to the store where you bought them, the publishers don't make any money. So they want you to hold onto games after you've finished them — and perhaps even spend a few more bucks to download some add-on material.

Most downloadable content (aka DLC) is fairly simple: new weapons or armor for characters, or new maps for multiplayer action. But more companies are looking at ways to lengthen the single-player adventure. Rockstar Games has announced the first downloadable chapter for "Grand Theft Auto IV," and some of the fall's hottest titles have more ambitious DLC in the works.

This month, fans of Microsoft's "Fable II" will get a new story in a new setting, the mysterious Knothole Island. Bethesda Softworks has three chunky add-ons coming for the Xbox version of the postapocalypse thriller "Fallout 3"; the first, "Operation: Anchorage," recounts the liberation of the Alaska city from the Chinese. And Square Enix is offering a pair of "challenge packs" for "The Last Remnant."

Nifty DLC isn't confined to the Xbox. Fans of the PlayStation 3 version of 2K Games' "BioShock" can now download a collection of "challenge rooms" set in previously unseen parts of the undersea city Rapture.

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— GO AWAY, KID: The National Institute on Media and the Family's annual video game report card is out, and it says the industry is doing a pretty good job of keeping children away from violent games. The updated rating system got high marks, and the study found that just one in five children who tried to buy Mature-rated software was successful.

Still, the report card said too many children are still playing M-rated games. This time, though, the institute blamed parents, who "are not using information like game ratings, parental controls and screen time limits provided by retailers and console makers."

Once again, the institute published a list of games that parents should avoid buying for children; they're all M-rated titles like "Dead Space" and "Gears of War 2." The list of recommended games is a little more problematic, mixing real gems like "LittleBigPlanet" with dogs like "Rock Revolution."

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— YOU AND WHAT ARMY? The U.S. Army has been receptive to video gaming since 2002, when it developed "America's Army" as a recruiting tool. Now, according to the military newspaper Stars and Stripes, the Army is planning to invest $50 million over the next five years to develop games to help train soldiers for combat.

Specifically, the Army is looking to adapt a commercial product for combat training. Does that mean the next "Call of Duty" could be heading to Afghanistan?

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— NEW IN STORES: Ubisoft's acrobatic "Prince of Persia" (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, DS) gets a colorful new look. ... THQ's evil alien Crypto invades the 1970s in "Destroy All Humans! Path of the Furon" (360). ... "Mamma Mia!" fans can get their karaoke fix from "SingStar Abba" (PlayStation 2).



Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.