Sweet! Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic lands on iPad

If you're a gamer and "Star Wars" fan, your day just got a little better: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) arrived on the iOS App Store for iPad.

Supported by Apple's iPad 2 (running iOS 6) and newer iterations, Knights of the Old Republic costs a stout $10, but the 1.98GB download (which unpacks to 2.5GB) represents many hours of entertaining "Star Wars" gameplay. Game developer Aspyr ported the classic game originally created by Bioware.… Read more

Star Wars: The Old Republic adds free-to-play

Well, that didn't take long. EA announced today that gamers can play the beleaguered Star Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG this fall for free, avoiding the usual $14.99 monthly fee. The company also announced a $14.99 price cut for the game coming in August; the cut comes packaged with a one-month subscription. … Read more

With pressure on, BioWare enhances Mass Effect 3 ending

BioWare announced today Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut, a downloadable content pack due this summer that adds cinematic sequences and epilogue to the arguably lackluster ending of the popular space-bound role-playing game.

To further sweeten the deal, BioWare will give away the enhanced Mass Effect 3 ending free to gamers on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 consoles until April 2014.

"The goal of the DLC is not to provide a new ending to the game, rather to offer fans additional context and answers to the end of Commander Shepard's story," a BioWare representative said in a blog post. … Read more

Mass Effect 3 conquers the universe

It's tempting to say that there hasn't been as fully realized a science fiction universe in a generation as the one presented in the Mass Effect games, which include the just-released Mass Effect 3 (read GameSpot's review here). The game's impressive reach is supported by novels, comic books, apps, and a fanatically loyal fan base (that recently forced a tie-in novel back to the editing desk for corrections to continuity). Sci-fi blog io9 makes much the same argument, calling it, "one of the most important pieces of science fiction narrative of our generation."

Does the trilogy's end deliver? We step back into the shoes of Commander Shepard for one last trip through the galaxy.… Read more

Shouting your way to victory in Mass Effect 3

A funny thing happened when I sat down to test out Mass Effect 3's ability to shout out orders to my virtual squad mates: I resisted. Big time.

As a longtime Mass Effect fan (I'm almost embarrassed to admit I've played the previous two games enough times to see virtually all of the different endings), it was difficult not to fall back on to old habits. Despite some tweaks and additions to the game, Mass Effect 3 played similarly to its two predecessors, so the temptation was there.

But I persevered and actively avoided using buttons and pausing the game, instead barking my orders via the Xbox's Kinect peripheral, which powers the feature. After the initial awkward few minutes in which I learned the different commands on the fly, I was routinely telling my squadmates to fire singularity warp fields and throw grenades just as naturally as if I asked my co-worker to hand me an extra notepad. The result was a more satisfying experience and a stronger personal connection to the virtual characters flanking me in combat.

Gamers will get their own chance to try out the game on February 14, when EA and Bioware will release a free demo online to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles, as well as the PC. The game hits stores on March 6. … Read more

Star Wars: The Old Republic takes on World of Warcraft with force

After at least three years and an estimated $155 million, Electronic Arts and BioWare open their new massive multiplayer game, Star Wars: The Old Republic to general audiences on December 20.

The developers' hope is that the game will bring meaningful competition to the World of Warcraft-dominated online gaming market. Gamers and the "Star Wars" faithful, on the other hand, just hope the game is fun. We've been playing the game in an early release phase, open to customers who preordered the game and others.

Rich: Games in the MMO (massive multiplayer online) genre are notoriously hard … Read more

Star Wars: The Old Republic release date revealed

Bioware and LucasArts have confirmed the official release date for the highly anticipated Star Wars: The Old Republic video game.

The Star Wars MMORPG will be available on December 20 in North America and on December 22 in Europe. After months of speculation, BioWare co-founders Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk confirmed the release date at the Eurogamer Expo in London.

"This is an incredible moment for everyone at BioWare and our partners at LucasArts who have dedicated their lives to build this extraordinary game," said Dr. Muzyka. "We appreciate the patience from the millions of fans who have been waiting for the game's release."

Subscription fees are standard for a game of this type, starting at $14.99 (€12.99) for one month. Three month plans for $13.99 per month (total $41.97/€35.97), or six month subscriptions for $12.99 per month (total $77.94/€65.94). Bioware gives gamers 30 days of subscription time free with each purchase of the game.

Those who pre-ordered SW: TOR will obtain early game access, which could be up to five days before the official launch date. … Read more

EA confirms customer data stolen

Electronic Arts has confirmed that one of its server systems was breached and customer information was stolen and said this week that it's continuing to investigate the intrusion.

The company has updated an earlier Q&A deep in the support section of its Web site with some information on the hack of a system that hosts its BioWare Neverwinter Nights forum. The company says it learned about the hack on June 14 and gets right to the point with some frequently asked questions:… Read more

Dragon Age II high-res PC texture pack compared

Electronic Arts' anticipated role-playing sequel Dragon Age II launched today for the PC, the Xbox 360, and the PlayStation 3. Reviews have been positive so far, but PC gamers had concerns that developer Bioware might be straying too far into console territory with the new game that features faster-paced combat and a more gamepad-friendly interface than the original, Dragon Age: Origins.

Perhaps to help convince PC gamers that it hasn't forgotten them, Bioware issued a free high-resolution texture pack download for Dragon Age II to coincide with today's launch. Designed for the PC version exclusively, the texture pack … Read more

Mass Effect 2 serves up mass market RPG action

There was a time when role-playing games were the domain of geeked-out obsessives overly concerned with stats, percentages, and the rolling of virtual 20-sided dice--or else fans of ornate, absurdist Japanese RPGs (such as the Final Fantasy series). For the coveted mainstream gamer, it could be very unfriendly territory.

For that reason, the original Mass Effect (EA, 2007), was something of a revelation, keeping much of the strategy and complexity of a traditional RPG, but wrapping it up in an action-packed third-person shooter, with a compelling (but digestible) storyline, and massive set pieces straight out of a big-budget Hollywood sci-fi epic.

Developer BioWare seems to have cornered the market on this new breed of RPG, following up with the very similar Dragon Age: Origins (a sword-and-sorcery take that managed to overcome the staleness of its genre), and now Mass Effect 2--which has quickly become the first critical darling of 2010.

Dan: Mass Effect 2 nails that elusive mix of highbrow and lowbrow (as the terms apply to game mechanics). There's still a complex plot, and characters with intertwining motives and methods, plus the flexibility to approach tasks in whatever order you choose. At the same time, most of the actual RPG stat-counting takes place behind the scenes (weapons stats no longer need to be pored over, the game simply defaults to the best guns you have), and the physical actions of running, shooting, and taking cover are much closer to what we expect from the current generation of highly polished third-person action games.

The focus on traditional duck-and-cover shooting is a clear indication of Mass Effect's console origins. Sister game Dragon Age was originally developed for PCs and ported to consoles (instead of the other way around), so it feels slower and more strategic (plus, that game lets you travel with three companions at a time, rather than Mass Effect's two).

The game definitely has that elusive 'X' factor that draws players in, perhaps partly by presenting a greatest hits melody of pop-culture highlights, from the thinly veiled political subtext of 'BSG,' and routinely shifting alliances of '24,' to the Star-Wars-reminiscent design, such as the Coruscant-like planet of Illium. For whatever reasons, the game is simply impossible to put down once you start playing, leading to many late nights of galaxy-saving (and resource mining on random planets).

And yet, despite racking up 25-plus hours of in-game time over the past week, there's still a nagging feeling that we've hit something of a wall in terms of game design.… Read more