Eurogamer, Expo Hands on – Batman Arkham Origins

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This article is the opinion of the author and in no way reflects a side-wide opinion. Each author attended Eurogamer separately – look out for other opinions in due course…

I was very fortunate enough to not only get hands on with a playable demo for Arkham Origins but also to attend the Eurogamer Expo developer session for the game as well as an opportunity to speak with the developers from WB Montreal as well.

(Dev Session begins at 07:03)

I am a huge Arkham fan, and have much love for the work Rocksteady have done to bring a true graphic novel level experience to a comic book adaptation. Both Asylum and Arkham City were amazing games both for story and especially for gameplay and it came as quite a shock when it was announced by Warner Brothers that it would be their brand new WB Montreal studio who would be taking over from Rocksteady to bring us Arkham Origins, a prequel story set before the first two Arkham Games.

From the video above you can see the developers themselves discussing what they have brought to the Arkham series, and it was the demo played on stage that fans attending Eurogamer Expo were able to play on the show floor. The demo stand was my first stop after the session itself, and after playing was lucky to get an opportunity to discuss the game with the developers for a good 20 minutes after playing.

It is has been made clear that Rocksteady gave their blessing to WB Montreal for Origins, and provided the technology used to make Arkham City to them so what you have with Origins is a game that has the same feel and look as City. Playing the demo felt perfectly natural from exploring the much large world of Gotham city to the free flow combat which has kept the speed and fluidity of City.

What felt new about what WB Montreal was the addition of random crime events which you as a player as either choose to stop or to ignore depending on your current objective. What is new about the combat in Origins, is that depending on how well you fight, the XP you collect will be based on your grading once the combat is complete. The more “Batman” you are the higher the grade and higher the XP you get. I like this new style, being rewarded for being more Batman is a nice touch and will help players learn to do more then just jump in and button mash till everyone is down.

Detective mode has also been improved upon by WB Montreal with Batman now having the ability to recreate a crime scene piece by piece to see how an event took place. One of the criticisms Arkham games have had in the past, is that the detective side for Batman in the games felt very automatic. Switch on detective mode, scan a clue and the game would connect the dots and show you where you needed to go next. This new style of having the player search for clues at a crime scene and then rewinding the crime itself from those clues in order to discover the cause or find new clues feels very true to the Batman from the comics, because Batman is a detective as much as he is an action hero. WB Montreal have given fans the chance to experience this aspect to Batman, who in Origins is only two years into his career as Gotham’s Dark Knight.

As well as the main villains who are out to collect the bounty put on Batman’s head by Black Mask, other lesser known characters will make an appearance to give Batman missions to do such as the Anarky. In the demo, you come across bombs set to explode by Anarky and using detective mode you track down Anarky and get introduced to a new enemy archetype in the Martial Artist. This enemy is able to counter more of Batman’s attacks more so then a standard thug. The AI is very good and matching your attacks so you need to change up from just doing normal standard attacks in order to take them down. Replacing the Titan enemy from previous Arkham games in the large heavy armoured enemies. You battle these like you would a Titan, stun 3 times then attack until Bats rips off their armour then repeat to put down. This is again a great way to build your combo metre and mixed in with a battle with other thugs will test your skills to try and get a high grade.

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The demo ends with Batman discovering Joker and coming face to face for the first time with his brutality and violence. Origins will have Batman being introduced to some of the biggest Villains in his universe for the first time, and if the story follows the example shown in the demo, each encounter is going to be something quite special, not just for fans of the Arkham series but for anyone who is a Batman fan.

Speaking with the developers, they acknowledged their concern for how loyal Rocksteady fans of Arkham would react to their series being taken over by a new Studio in WB Montreal. They told me that they wanted to stay true to what Rocksteady have built as a series and to what fans expect from an Arkham game but also wanted to give fans a new experience worthy of their time. With the addition of a full Multiplayer mode, WB Montreal wanted to give more for fans to do, but they have not forgotten what loyal fans loved about the challenge maps which also make a return for Origins.

I asked them if they planned on revealing any more villains before release and they confirmed that there will be no more revealed before launch so fans got a surprise when playing the game. They understood the need to build hype for the game especially with Origins being the first non Rocksteady game and the first not to feature the voice talents of Mark Hamill as The Joker and Kevin Conroy as Batman, but did not want to give so much away that fans have nothing left to look forward to discovering once they get to play the final game. One of the reasons they chose to set the game as a prequel was so they could make their own story without the worry of undoing the lore created by Rocksteady in their games. They respect what fans have come to know, and felt that in a prequel story going right back to when Batman was new to crime fighting they could tell a new story but keep the series legacy whole.

Overall, the concerns I had for Origins have gone. Whilst I am still not sure about the MP addition, the fact that everything that I loved about the Arkham series to this point is still there means I still get the game I would expect for the series. The story itself, as a comic book fan of Batman, has a real Year One and Nightfall kind of feel to it, and with Batman meeting so many villains for the first time, it will be great to see how that comes together on screen. I am very much looking forward to Origins and adding it to my Arkham Collection, fans of the series can rest easy knowing that Arkham is in safe hands. WB also announced that a season pass will be available for Origins so there will be DLC to follow release that will feature skins, Challenge maps and MP content as well as SP Content such as playing as Bruce Wayne on his final test before he becomes the Batman.

Batman Arkham Origins is released for Xbox 360 October 25th

 

 

Eurogamer Expo – Titanfall Hands On Part One

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This article is the opinion of the author and in no way reflects a side-wide opinion. Each author attended Eurogamer separately – look out for other opinions in due course…

I will be honest, since Titanfall’s announcement back at E3, it had not grabbed my full attention. This is completely down to FPS game fatigue more then anything else, after a decade of playing FPS game series which churn out sequels which are familiar and known. The FPS genre has a lot of games, all doing the same thing, feeling the same way and not really doing anything new and just playing it safe giving their fans what they expect and nothing more.

At this year’s Eurogamer Expo at Earl’s Court, the UK gaming community finally got the chance to have actual hands on time with Titanfall and see for themselves why it is the game to watch as the next generation of gaming comes into our lives in November. It was by far the most popular game of the expo. For each of the 4 days the queue for Titanfall was the longest for any game at the Expo, all day every day.

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The hands on demo featured the Multiplayer game mode ‘Attrition’. For the demo, Attrition plays out the story of the attempted escape of top  Militia pilot Barker from Angel City. One team plays as the Militia faction M-Cor whose task is to defend and distract the IMC in combat as Barker escapes.The other team,playing as the IMC forces must wipe out the M-Cor forces from the area.

Before the game starts, players can select the class of pilot they will play as, with weapon sets dependant on the class as well as the type of Titan they will get to pilot, which again determines the weapon loadout for the Titan. With 3 options for each in this demo, the combinations of playing styles is varied. I chose to go with an assault class for my pilot but picked a Titan with the heavy weapons loadout. Pilots have their primary weapon based on class, a secondary pistol and every Pilot comes with an anti-Titan weapon so if you encounter one on the field of play you wont suddenly feel over matched. Titans have their primary weapon but also a defensive option governed by type. My Heavy Weapon Titan had the magnetic smoke defense, which when used against another Titan will surround them in an electrical smoke cloud which will mess up the other Titan’s visual systems.

The gameplay is fast and fluid. Movement as a pilot uses jump packs and wall running to navigate the map. This is so intuitive and easily mastered and I found myself scaling up buildings to seize the high ground to take out enemies on the ground and then moving quickly between buildings to escape oncoming enemy Titans. The freedom to explore the game area gives players the freedom to explore and battle across the whole play area, from ground level fire fights to scaling buildings quickly to get to high ground or just to manoeuvre to flank an enemy team, this allows the game to be different every time and tactics will inspire team work across the map to co-ordinate the battle.

Of course, there is one moment that stands out for me, which I never expected it to do so until it finally happened. As I was exploring how to use the wall running, taking out the enemy team, a voice via comms told me “Two Minutes to Titanfall”, I carried on fighting and then “one minute to Titanfall”. I have to admit, the build up to being able to call in my first Titan gave me a buzz. Then it happened, “Titan is available for drop” and the ability to call your Titan down when you want, so its not forced on you is great aspect to the Titanfall. You can select where you want your Titan to drop, and the visuals of looking up to see this flaming trail blazing down from the sky to the noise and impact of your Titan landing before you never gets old. Changing to Titan is as simple as jumping on to it from above or holding a button for your titan to grab you and place you inside.

In other games that use Mec’s, the dynamic between being a human character and a large Mech has often meant a slower combat experience with limited movement. Not so in Titanfall. What was surprising to me, was that piloting the Titan was as quick and agile. You get the sensation of being one of the largest and most powerful objects on the field of play but movement is quick enough that you can immediately get in the action the moment you take control. Taking out standard soldiers is impressive, but its when you come across your first enemy Titan and head into combat that the sensation of power really kicks in. My first encounter saw my Heavy Weapon Titan come up against an Assault Titan, as I was firing off my rockets I noticed that one of my fellow pilots was on the back of the enemy titan trying to disable it. Our combination of my power and his sabotage made it a quick end for the Titan but to see how the combination of playing styles taking down a Titan was very impressive, and not something I have experienced in a FPS title before.

As the match came to a close, and sadly my team, of which I was second top scorer, were declared the losers. But with other FPS game this would be the end, a final kill cam then black screen and game is done. But not with Titanfall. Respawn Entertainment have added a nice little bonus element to Attrition, The Epilogue. Epilogue gives the losing team the opportunity to escape via evac ship whilst the winning team has to stop them escaping. Extra XP can be earned even for the losing team and the challenge of escaping is dramatic.

First you have to wait for your drop ship to come into the map, a point on the map is highlighted and using wall runnning you make your way to it as enemy pilots reign down fire on you. I believe I was the only member of my team to actually make it to the evac ship but just as I was about to climb aboard, the ship blew up as the enemy took it down. I can see this possibly being a chance for the losing team to have to sacrifice some members to defend the others escaping till the last possible moment to ensure a successful evac.

I also had the privilege and pleasure of speaking with Mathew Everett, EA Community Manager for Titanfall, and discussed how Respawn Entertainment set out to bring something new to the FPS genre, and it was important to give fans the best gaming experience they could whilst doing that. As Titanfall does its PR thing, the team is still working tirelessly on finishing the game and they are very excited to be bringing Titanfall to Xbox One and Xbox 360 in early 2014.

For me, Titanfall more then lives up to the hype. As a FPS fan I have played just about every FPS game in the last decade of this generation. I feel that the genre has become stagnant. Whilst the games released now are still fun to play and fans happy enough, for some time now the gaming community has been crying out for something new, something different. EA and Respawn Entertainment have delivered this on a huge Titan size silver platter. Playing Titanfall was the most refreshing FPS experience I have had in years, its new and impactful and really deserves the hype and buzz it is generating with gamers and the Gaming Media.

Playing the demo and speaking with Mathew Everett totally won me over, I went from thinking it was just going to be another FPS game to believing Titanfall to be a genre changing title. With the next generation of gaming coming in, Titanfall will be leading the charge and it will be up to other developers to follow their example. Titanfall was my game of Eurogamer Expo 2013 and this is a game that will sell Xbox One consoles without any doubt.

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Would like to say a huge heartfelt thank you to both Dan Sheridan and Mathew Everett for being so generous with their time to talk with me and for working so hard for so many fans at the Expo. Titanfall is set for release on Xbox 360 and Xbox One early 2014 and is definitely going to set the bar for what can be done in FPS for years to come.

 

MXGP The Official Motocross Videogame Dated Spring 2014

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Milestone, has announced MXGP The Official Motocross Videogame based on the official World Motocross Championship which is to be made available in spring 2014 the Xbox 360 and other current gen platforms.

From mud to the stars the Motocross’ Warrior made by Milestone, make their own debut on the ‘Current Gen’. Dust, emotion, simulation, authenticity, amazing jumps and the fight to the first position. These are the key elements of the new videogame based on one of the most adrenaline filled and challenging Championship ever. In this way modeled from dust and mud come to life the new generations of riders/players that characterize the new Milestone masterpiece. The aim? Win the World championship title match by match. A lot of new features have been included into the game that will inspire Motocross lovers and not only them.

Developed by Milestone Studio, MXGP, The Official Motocross Videogame will be available in spring 2014 for PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360 and Windows PC.

Xbox Fitness For Xbox One Is On A Whole New Level

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The Xbox team has today lifted the lid on “Xbox Fitness,” a new online service built exclusively for Xbox One that takes the world’s most popular fitness videos and makes them interactive – to top it off it will be available for free with Xbox Live Gold memberships through to December 2014!

Using precision Kinect technology, Xbox Fitness can read your heart rate without a monitor, see which muscles are most engaged by measuring the power, force and transfer of weight in your body, and track the quality of your performance by measuring your balance, tempo and form. Xbox Fitness will deliver personalized program recommendations based on your workout history and past performance, highlight the most popular workouts among Xbox Fitness users, and offer a variety of workouts, from 10 to 60 minutes in length.

Xbox Fitness also helps you push yourself to work harder and stay motivated. Challenges are integrated into your workouts through Xbox Live, tracking your performance history and awards and delivering competitive social challenges. Take on your previous scores, challenge your friends to beat your performance and compare with the Xbox Fitness community.

Xbox Fitness will launch this holiday, just in time to get a jump-start on your New Year’s fitness resolution. With an Xbox Fitness Pass, included free with your Xbox Live Gold membership through December 2014, you’ll have unlimited access to the world’s best workouts, only on Xbox One.

Via Xbox Wire

Diablo III Review

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Diablo III is the third in a series of iconic PC cooperative dungeon crawler RPG’s. The franchise is well known and respected in PC gaming circles, it ranks up there with other RPG’s and dungeon crawlers like Neverwinter Nights and Baldur’s Gate.  It is quite literally one of the industry’s most popular franchises, a battle between Good and Evil, Heaven and Hell, and now finally it is here on Xbox 360.

I’ve been waiting a long time for this day – the chance to finally get my Blizzard fix whilst relaxing on the sofa with the comfort of an Xbox 360 controller in my hand. When I first read those port rumours a couple of years back and even saw the Blizzard recruitment posts looking a Console Producer, it still felt too good to be true. But the much anticipated game is finally here and I am ecstatic to report that it handles superbly albeit outside of its usual confines.

Like its predecessors, this iteration is a diabolically (like what I did there?) hellish, cooperative dungeon crawler that isn’t afraid to ratchet up its toughness from time to time. Diablo III, while featured completely in 3D with a 3D environment, follows closely in Diablo II’s track by using the classic isometric view, fast gameplay, and randomized content for high replayability. Some changes have been made in order to make the game more welcoming to new players, to ramp up the difficulty more smoothly, and to create a deep and engaging combat system. The Diablo III developers took inspiration from previous games in the series, as well as World of Warcraft. This latest behemoth offers a bevy of different degrees of challenge in the form of Normal, Nightmare, Hell & Inferno difficulties.

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Each difficulty level repeats the same content (with a few minor changes), while scaling up all the skills, items, monsters, experience rewards, gold drops, and everything else to maintain a challenge appropriate to the character level. The fourth difficulty level, Inferno, is a new feature in Diablo III, adding a much more challenging end game experience to the Hell difficulty that was the upper limit in Diablo II. If that sounds like it’s up your alley, then you’ll surely end up enjoying the twenty-odd hour game during your first run through, and multiple run through’s afterwards.

As with all titles similar, players are given the opportunity to pick and name their character, choose its gender and class from several different archetypes, some of which will be familiar to role-playing fanatics. First up is the typical hulking muscle ripped Barbarian, a close combat specialist. Next is the speedy monk with strong Eastern martial arts influences, then the nature-wielding, necromancy practicing and alchemy expert Witch Doctor. The final two classes are the ranged Demon Hunter who specializes in crossbows and trap laying and finally the expected Wizard, pure spell caster who focuses the arcane and elemental energies and transforms them into destructive offensive spells.

Being someone who daily wishes they had spells and magical powers at their disposal, I picked the Wizard and stuck with him from start through to completion. I’ve yet to load up the next difficulty, but don’t worry, I will. I aim to finish this game on all FOUR difficulties.

The thing about Diablo games, and especially III, is that they are action-packed right from the get go. Diablo III ups the ante on most if not all of its peers. It doesn’t matter where you happen to be standing, the likelihood is there are enemies in extremely close proximity to you and your party. Enemies are monstrous in their design and range from the grotesque to demonic, mutated and downright vile. This is a game about good trying to overcome evil and these enemies are everything you’ve had nightmares about from childhood to adult life. Because of the sheer number of them make sure you are always fully stocked on health potions. Playing Solo (offline or without a local 2nd, 3rd and 4th player) you’ll probably die quite a bit, especially near the beginning. During the early quests I was continually swarmed by hordes of foes who killed me with relative ease – the bastards!

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In terms of the story line, unless you’ve played the prior two titles, it will intrigue you but won’t come across as the best or most unique script every written. For those of you familiar with Diablo lore, you’ll enjoy what is on offer as new and interesting details are revealed. The basic premise is an old man and his niece discover an ancient text, a text that speaks about an upcoming demonic invasion. As happens in all these scenarios, just as the two learn the meaning of the texts, all Hell (quite literally) breaks loose and hordes of demons break through into the realm of the living. By doing so the demons have broken a truce, choosing to invade the land of Sanctuary and take it for their own. Now demons are bad enough but someone else has come to town to play, the Lord of Terror himself, Diablo the Prime Evil. There is additional detail to the story to be found in diaries and journals scattered around the game world. These aren’t essential reading but do add further depth to those wishing to dig deeper into the story and lore.

If you hadn’t have heard about Diablo prior to this game, one of the biggest achievements for Blizzard has to be the fact that whilst playing Diablo III you’d be forgiven for thinking it had been designed for console from the outset. For a PC to console port, this is shining example of what taking extra time and care can achieve. They have haven’t released a console title since The Lost Vikings in 1997 (SNES, Saturn & PS1), yet there is no rust to be found here. Everything has been well thought out from the way abilities are mapped to controller face and shoulder buttons, and the ease at which players can escape combat through rolls. If you prefer joysticks and buttons over clicking a mouse and tapping keys, then you’ll feel right at home here, and won’t have any issues adjusting to what is a thoroughly impressive and fully acceptable input system. I can say that after being both a dedicated PC MMO player with multiple keyboard binds and macros as well as being a console fanatic.

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Graphically you have to remember that Diablo III was originally designed for PC and Mac. Therefore when run on the highest settings, the game will always look better on those platforms than a console. That said, the Xbox 360 is far from slacking in this department. The visual design is captivation and more than pleasing to the eye. You’ll understandably encounter some minor screen tearing, and a tiny bit of slowdown here and there, but they’re more hiccups than problems and don’t detract from the overall experience in the slightest. The frame rate fluctuates during big battles on screen where there were tons and tons of hideous monstrosities on the screen. There is a slight big of lag during online multiplayer and occasionally your comrades can become stuck in a building wall when they jump across the screen.

If like me you have been waiting this title ever since the announcement it was definitely going ahead for console, then don’t delay, get out there and buy it. It’s a fantastic port and is one of the finest dungeon crawlers I have played in a long, long time. It is action packed, it’s a loot lover’s dream and single player is rewarding and fun whist there is great online and/or local cooperative action. If you’ve never played a Diablo title before and are looking for something new to try with friends, then again this should most definitely be on your radar. From me to you Blizzard, job well done.

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Need for Speed Movie Trailer

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I am not overly keen on game to movie adaptations. Do remember watching the $48,000,000 production from Hollywood Pictures of Super Mario Bros.? No, there is a reason for that, it was rubbish. It was slammed by the critics and lost a shed load of cash.

But granted, there have been some OK’ish game to movie projects. The Resident Evil franchise (removing my bias against the films) has been extremely successful over the years. Silent Hill, Max Payne, Hitman and Tomb Raider have all experienced degrees of success. A handful of these movies even launching the careers of new actors and actresses.

However I can almost guarantee this particular movie will make its money back on box sales thanks to the success of the Fast & Furious franchise. Orange Wednesday’s down your local theatre are likely to be filled with 20 something males and their reluctant girlfriends… oh the joy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOZ023Fp1Sc

Rockstar Games Spill The Beans On GTA Online

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Rockstar Games have released more information about GTA Online ahead of the launch on October 1st 2013.  First, they give some details of the roll out of GTA Online, and how they hope gaming communities will be involved in making the game everything it can be. All is explained in more depth below.

Grand Theft Auto Online is going to be something brand new: a fully realized and living world for multiple players that will continue to grow and take shape over time. The ultimate shape of GTA Online will be determined as much by you, the player – what you like and don’t like, what you play and what you want will determine how the game develops and what it turns into. There is a planned constant stream of new content, tweaks and updates in the weeks and months ahead. Initial focus will be on the tuning experience as it goes from internal testing to the reality of being played by tons of people in the real world so that all the usual teething problems for an online game are overcome. The opportunity to create your own content will follow in due course.

The Launch of Grand Theft Auto Online

From launch, up to 16 players can enter the world together to partake in everything from:

Open-World Crime and Chaos – Go on your own or round up your friends to explore the open world together – catch a movie, go mountain biking, hit the shooting range and much more. Want to test the law? Knock over a convenience store, take down a gang or rob an armored truck for easy cash and Reputation.

Jobs – Los Santos and Blaine County are ripe with opportunity for the ambitious and criminal minded. Take on Missions and an array of other Jobs as a lone wolf, team up with your Crew or join fellow mercenaries and degenerates to pull off a wide range of robberies and illicit activities together.

Races – Everything from classic street competition and off-road tracks to boat racing on the open ocean, or take to the skies in aerial events. Jump into the madness of a GTA Race, or try out a brand new race type, Rally, where driver and co-pilot work together to navigate treacherous courses at high speeds.

Sports – Join your friends / any random stranger for a game of tennis, a round of golf or go base jumping and more, all for cash and Reputation.

Customization – Create your character using the Character Creator – then earn some cash and spend it getting dressed for success. You can also collect and customize cars for your garage and personalize your full weapons cache.

Reputation and Cash Flow – Reputation is earned from all your online exploits in everything you do in GTA Online – and will help you rank up, providing access to new features, weapons and criminal contacts. Spend cash you’ve gained on cars, clothes, guns, properties and much more. You can either quickly accumulate cash through profitable activities like knocking over armored cars, winning street races, doing stick-ups or a host of other cash-making endeavors – or if you’re the completely instant gratification type, you can choose to buy denominations of GTA$. You will have the option to purchase GTA$ through the in-game Store. The game and its economy have been designed and balanced for the vast majority of players who will not buy extra cash. There is no in-game paywall and nothing that should disrupt the balance of the game. You don’t have to spend real money to attain the cars, guns, clothes, flash and style of a high-roller in Los Santos, but can if you wish to get them a little quicker. The economy is balanced differently from the single player economy, and cash earned in one cannot be taken over to the other. Most players will earn cash much faster Online than in Story Mode.

Growing Pains – There will be the typical growing pains for an online game, including but not limited to crashes, glitches, crazy bugs, gameplay modes and mechanics that need re-balancing and other surprises! Even in GTAV Story Mode, some of you may have seen a few odd and even amusing little glitches out there last week. This sort of thing is inevitable in a massive open-world game and there’ll surely be lots more unexpected oddities like this in the Online world next week – rest assured we’ll be monitoring and actively doing all we can to smooth such things out as they happen, but we need your help to find them, as well as your feedback to help fine tune all of the game’s systems so everything is perfectly balanced.

Currently Planned GTA Online Content Updates

The Content Creator – The Content Creator will launch with tools to tailor and publish your own Deathmatches & Races.

The Beach Bum Pack – Featuring 4 new amazing beach fun vehicles, over 300 new items of incredible down tempo leisure wear and 2 new but not remotely relaxing weapons.

Capture the Flag – GTA Online’s take on the classic CTF mode including the ability to make your own using The Content Creator.

Heists – This update will introduce full-on cooperative Heist missions that will require careful planning, teamwork and sharp execution – along with the Heist Planning Board for your apartment.

Just to clarify, all of these updates will be free. Please stay tuned for further info and updates in the coming weeks after launch on October 1st.

Source: rockstargames.com

F1 2013 – UK TV Advert Video

F1 2013 gives FORMULA 1 fans the chance to compete against legendary drivers in cars from different eras of FORMULA ONE with a range of classic content from the 1980s. F1 Classics, introduced by legendary broadcaster Murray Walker, allows players to race iconic 1980s cars from Williams, Lotus and Ferrari against drivers including Mario Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Emerson Fittipaldi and Gerhard Berger, with more to be announced, on classic circuits Brands Hatch and Jerez.

F1 2013 launches October 4th 2013.