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Halloween has come to Team Fortress 2! And so has the game's first boss monster, the axe-wielding, jack o' lantern behatted Horseless Headless Horsemann. It's all part of Valve's second annual TF2 Halloween special. The latest update for the oft-updated Team Fortress 2 adds an all-new map, the spooky Mann Manor, as well as a quartet of new, potentially heart attack-inducing achievements. Even more frightening? The Halloween-themed achievements made available during last year's Halloween update are now achievable once more!

(Update: There's another new map in this update, Mountain Lab! Both new maps come from TF2Maps.net's Art Pass contest.)

Also new are fresh community made and Valve made items in the Mann Co. Store, some of which are only available while the TF2 Halloween special update is live. That's from today until November 8, by the way.

If you're at least this tall and don't suffer from a pre-existing heart condition, it's recommended that you start playing some Team Fortress 2 now. If you dare, of course.

Team Fortress 2 - Halloween Special [Team Fortress - thanks, gregfromtheinternet!]
 
 
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Looks like someone at 2K Games had a little leftover resurrection potion from whatever they used on Duke Nukem Forever because the formerly dead downloadable content for BioShock 2 on PC is alive. It's coming. Viva PC Gaming Week! Over on the 2K forums, 2K Elizabeth spreads the news that BioShock 2's PC patch as well as the Protector Trials and Minvera's Den downloadable expansions — both of which are out for the console versions of the game — are back in development.

The patch and Protector Trials had been scuttled because they were too buggy when 2K's deadline for them hit. Minerva's Den (which we liked a lot on console) just wasn't done. Following a rash of fan feedback and an unexplained change in resources or priorities, 2K Elizabeth says work on all of that is being resumed.

2K estimates the patch and Protector Trials will be out in December and will offer them for free. Minerva's Den's schedule is more murky, though 2K Elizabeth says the team is committed to finishing it and releasing it.

Update: Protector Trials, Minerva's Den, and final patch coming to a PC near you [2K Games Forums]
 
 
Aiur Chef? Left 2 Die? StarJeweled? Blizzard DOTA? What's going on with the four new official game modes coming to StarCraft 2? These four visual guides will give you the skinny. Revealed earlier today during the BlizzCon 2010 opening ceremonies, the StarCraft II team has created four new game modes based on popular titles and, in once case, a popular television show. Aiur Chef is Iron Chef. Left 2 Die is Left 4 Dead. StarJeweled is obvious Bejeweled, and Blizzard DOTA is Blizzards take on the genre that originated as a Warcraft III mod.

Check out these visual guides to get an idea of how each new game type plays.

Aiur Chef

Left 2 Die

StarJeweled

DOTA

 
 
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StarCraft II players will get four officially sanctioned mods for the real-time strategy title created by Blizzard, new map types that turn the sci-fi war game into a Bejeweled-like puzzler, a co-op survival game and a DotA-style multiplayer scenario. Blizzard's Mike Morhaime announced at Blizzcon 2010 today that four new mods are coming to Battle.net: Auir Chef (yes, that's "chef"), Left 2 Die, StarJeweled and Blizzard DotA. Auir Chef combines cooking and killing in a battle for the title of "Executor Chef." StarJeweled adds gem-matching gameplay to the energy gathering, troop building mechanics of StarCraft II.

Left 2 Die adds a "new co-op take on the StarCraft II campaign mission 'Outbreak'" and Blizzard DotA — which may actually be known as Blizzard All-Stars — appears to be an outer space spin on the popular WarCraft III mode, Defense of the Ancients.

All four mods are playable at this weekend's BlizzCon and will be released to the StarCraft II community, for free, via Battle.net in the coming months.

[Source: Kotaku]
 
 
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The next Call of Duty game, Black Ops, promises to be a lot more PC-friendly than the last Call of Duty game, Modern Warfare 2. So let's see if your PC can run it! The system specs for the title are out, and read as follows:

Call of Duty®: Black Ops Download Minimum System Requirements

* OS: Windows® Vista / XP / 7
* Processor:Intel® Core™2 Duo E6600 or AMD Phenom™ X3 8750 or better
* Memory: 2GB
* HDD:12GB**
* Video: Shader 3.0 or better 256MB NVIDIA® GeForce® 8600GT / ATI Radeon® X1950Pro or better
* Sound: DirectX 9.0c-compatible
* DirectX: 9.0c


Not mentioned is the fact you'll also need a Steam account to run the game, but really, who doesn't have one of those by now?
 
 
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Starcraft II has been updated for the second time in a month with Blizzard again venturing under the game's hood with a spanner and thing-a-me-jig to make changes to cooldowns, build times and energy levels. Tweaks have been made to all three of the game's races, five minor bugs have been addressed and a couple of user-interface changes have also been made. The full laundry list of improvements is as follows:

General

• Players will no longer receive achievement toasts while their status is set to "Busy."

• The messaging when attempting to load a saved game or replay from a previous version has been clarified.

• Adjusted the amount of points earned and lost by random team participants to properly reflect the strength of a player's teammates.

Balance

PROTOSS

o Buildings

• Nexus life and shields increased from 750/750 to 1000/1000.

o Void Ray

• Damage level 1 increased from 5 to 6 (+4 armored).

• Damage level 2 decreased from 10 (+15 armored) to 8 (+8 armored).

• Flux Vanes speed upgrade bonus decreased from 1.125 to 0.703.

TERRAN

o Buildings

• Barracks requirement changed from Command Center to Supply Depot.

• Supply Depot life increased from 350 to 400.

o Medivac

• Acceleration reduced from 2.315 to 2.25.

• Speed reduced from 2.75 to 2.5.

o Reaper

• Nitro Packs speed upgrade now has a Factory Requirement.

o Thor

• Energy bar removed.

• 250mm Strike Cannons is now cooldown-based on a 50-second cooldown. Ability starts with cooldown available (useable immediately after upgrade is researched).

ZERG

o Buildings

• Hatchery life increased from 1250 to 1500.

• Lair life increased from 1800 to 2000.

• Spawning Pool life increased from 750 to 1000.

• Spire life increased from 600 to 850.

• Ultralisk Cavern life increased from 600 to 850.

o Corruptor

• Energy bar removed.

• Corruption is now cooldown-based on a 45-second cooldown. Ability starts with cooldown expired (must wait for full 45-second cycle before usable).

o Infestor

• Fungal Growth now prevents Blink.

o Roach

• Range increased from 3 to 4.

Bug Fixes

• Fixed an issue where players could not cast the Feedback spell on Point Defense Drones.

• Fixed an issue where the Phoenix would continue to channel Graviton Beam after the target died.

• Fixed an issue that would cause Larvae to spawn and be hidden behind Zerg eggs.

• Fixed an issue where players were unable to navigate to the Single Player page or watch replays after canceling map downloads from the queue.

• Fixed a desync that could occur on user-created maps with custom mod dependencies.

The update, now live, brings Starcraft II to version 1.1.2.
 
 
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The Protector Trials and Minerva's Den, two downloadable content packs for BioShock 2 on the Xbox 360 and PS3, are still not available for PC owners of the game. And now, they never will be. 2K PR representative Elizabeth Tobey has taken to the game's forums to break the bad news, issuing a statement that reads "We will...not be offering Protector Trials and Minerva's Den on the PC in the future – and I want to say that I'm sorry for the disappointment this will cause to PC players out there."
 
 
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Blizzard fans are a patient lot, so the gap between StarCraft II's future episodes focusing on the Zerg and Protoss races should be easy going. It's only going to be about 18 more months before we see the next one. So said Battle.net project director Greg Canessa at GDC Online in Austin, Texas today, according to a report from GameSpot. That puts StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm tentatively on schedule for March or April 2012, about when we were expecting the game anyway, going by previous estimates from high level Blizzard employees.

While Blizzard rarely confirms dates this far in advance, its a more definitive date than "the next few years," the previously mentioned release window for Heart of the Swarm, Diablo III and the developer's still unannounced next-gen MMO.

Canessa told GDC Online attendees that those working on the Battle.net side would be working on new features, including "trading replays, broadcasting replays, and upgrading profiles," according to GameSpot's extended account.

 
 
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A playable demo for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 will be released on PSN and XBLA on October 12, LucasArts has confirmed.

"The level focuses on the very beginning of the game, which takes in a secret cloning facility on the planet of Kamino," explains Lucas.
"Starkiller, told by Vader he is no more than a clone, becomes tormented by the memories of his past and escapes into the rain-soaked planet with Vader not far behind. Unleash the power of dual Lightsabers, over-top Force powers including the new Jedi Mind Trick."

Sounds cool. The full game will be out on Wii, PS3, 360 and PC on October 26.
 
 
As warned, Blizzard today swept through the Starcraft II playerbase with knives at the ready, banning or suspending the accounts of thousands of players caught using hack programs or other forms of cheating. The final count was "over 5000" players, Blizzard reminding everyone that it's not just the spirit of fair play that's in trouble when people cheat; messing with the underlying workings of the game "can lead to stability and performance issues with the service".

While a death toll of a few thousand (it wasn't disclosed how many were suspensions and how many were permanent bans) accounts is impressive for most games, it pales in comparison to Blizzard's previous record of 350,000, set during a World of Warcraft purge.