Gaming News Round-Up: October 8th, 2004

Today's update includes Norwegian freedom, a little 2D goodness with your Torque, a shock that's partially of the System variety, and the banning of Larry's latest...
Today's update includes Norwegian freedom, a little 2D goodness with your Torque, a shock that's partially of the System variety, and the banning of Larry's latest wacky escapades Down Under. - Norwegian-based Anarchy Online creators Funcom has announced a new pricing model for the PC MMO, with a full version of the game now available for free to all new players (though a monthly subscription still applies). The company is also extending the free trial period for Anarchy Online from 7 to 14 days. Current subscription plans for the game start at $14.95 per month for a single month's sign-up, all the way down to $7.95 per month when signing up for twelve months. The game originally launched somewhat disastrously in mid-2001, but has since stabilized and debuted several better-received expansion packs, including Shadowlands and Alien Invasion. - Independent developer/publisher GarageGames has announced a range of new add-ons and expansions to its Torque Game Engine, to be shown at this year's IndieGamesCon in Oregon, including Timothy Aste's Content Pack, Synapse Lighting Pack, Torque RTS Starter Kit, Forest Pack, David Wyland's Looking Glass, Torque 2D, BraveTree's Girl Pack, Troy McFarland's Mocap libraries and the release of the Maya Exporter. Of particular interest to retro-inspired indie developers is Torque 2D, which "provides hardware-accelerated 2D routines, allowing developers to unleash the full power of today's hardware in 2D game worlds." - Irrational Games has announced a newly in-development FPS title called BioShock, a game carefully billed as a 'spiritual successor' to classic Looking Glass title System Shock 2, on which many Irrational developers worked. The developer is keen to stress that the game is not in any way an official follow-on to the cult 1999 FPS, since the rights to that franchise are owned by Electronic Arts, but Irrational's general manager Ken Levine did indicate, in an interview with consumer site GameSpot, that the game will keep the open-endedness of the System Shock title, commenting of the gameplay: "We think emergence is the future." The game is relatively early in development, and a release date and publisher has yet to be set. - Vivendi Universal's smutty new console/PC game Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude has been officially banned in Australia. On September 9th, the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) has refused the title classification, meaning the game cannot be imported, hired or sold to the public. In particular, the classification board singled out "obscured and/or implied sexual activity and obscured and partial nudity involving stylised, animated characters" in its decision. The game is already available in the U.S., using the same black bars apparently submitted to the Australian classification board, and will apparently be available completely uncensored in some areas of Europe. The same Australian classification board recently refused classification to Rockstar's bloody action title Manhunt, referencing "scenes of blood and gore that go beyond strong." [Please note that the Consumer News Round-Up will be taking a short, week-long break, effective today, and will resume on Monday, October 18th.]

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