Skip to main content

Digital Blend: iPhone 5 revealed, Steam Greenlight games greenlit

Welcome back to Digital Blend, our weekly look at the world of downloadable video gaming that exists at the fringes of the mainstream. That means we look at the hottest new mobile game releases, downloadable content drops on consoles and PCs, indie darlings that deserve your love and attention, and the best gaming values under $20.

Keep your comments and feedback coming. We want to hear from you! Did you try something you read about here and enjoy it? Is there a particular game you think we’ve overlooked or news you want to share? Any questions you are dying to ask? Let us know! Your thoughts, feedback, suggestions and (constructive!) criticism are welcome, either in the comments section below or directed at yours truly on Twitter, @geminibros.

Related Videos

Making headlines…

* The iPhone 5 is official. Earlier this week, Apple held a press conference where it drew back the curtain on its next-gen iPhone. Pre-orders open starting today, September 14, and the new smartphone will be available in stores on September 21. Hidden behind the new 4-inch screen is some powerful tech centered around an A6 processor. This is the first of Apple’s phones to offer support for 4G LTE networks thanks to a new wireless receiver. Buyers can also expect to find an improved camera that shoots faster and performs better in low light conditions. We’ve got tons and tons and tons of iPhone 5 coverage, both from earlier this week and ongoing. Check it all out right here.

* It’s been another big week for Steam’s new Greenlight service, which is a crowdsourced platform where users can vote on which games should be sold through Valve’s digital distribution service. The first round of up-voted games has officially been approved by Valve for eventual release, which means 10 new Steam titles will soon be available on a gaming PC near you. There are some solid picks in there, as you might expect, including Black Mesa, the long-in-development HD remake of Valve’s classic FPS Half-Life. The list is pretty heavy on horror titles, notably including The Indie Stone’s inventive Project Zomboid. Anthony’s report has the full rundown. Also, be sure to check back in on Sunday, September 16, for Anthony’s interview with the developers behind the newly greenlit Greenlight title, No More Room In Hell.

* The guy who made Wing Commander is making games again. I’ll give you a moment to catch your breath. The long-ignored genre of space flight combat simulators was long, long ago led by Chris Roberts’ Wing Commander series. Featuring a rich fictional universe filled with memorable characters and a flavor all its own, the Wing Commander games quickly turned into what passed for AAA development at a time when PCs outpaced consoles much more than they do today. Now Roberts is planning a reveal for October 10, 2012, the same days as GDC Online, and it’s something related to his new Cloud Imperium Games studio. It sounds like he’s moving in more of an online-focused direction than a story-driven one, but we’ll have to wait until next month to learn more. 

* Gamers want some flavor of Borderlands on their PlayStation Vita. Series creator Gearbox Software does as well. Sony? Probably, right? Borderlands is totally a big deal, with next week’s Borderlands 2 standing as one of the most pre-ordered games in publisher 2K Games’ history. The Vita platform is starved for content, and a Borderlands game would drive fans wild. Gearbox boss Randy Pitchford knows it too, but he’s not about to start putting his team to work on developing a new Borderlands for the Vita. He said as much in a recent interview, adding “I think Sony should step up and make that happen.” Pitchford explained that he’d be totally okay with his studio’s baby being ported to the Sony handheld, but it’s a project that would have to be taken on by another developer. Here’s hoping all of this talk actually leads to the reality of Borderlands gameplay on the go.

* The standalone version of Dean Hall’s Arma 2 zombie mod DayZ continues to be a thing that people are talking about. We already know that the plan is for the Bohemia Interactive-developed DayZ to embrace the same sort of release model than Mojang did with Minecraft, releasing the game in an early and unfinished state at a reduced price, and then using the post-release player base as a testing environment to fine-tune the way it all works. All of which is great, but producer Jan Kunt noted in a recent interview that the PC-focused team is nonetheless aware that there’s a big community of gamers who only play on consoles. Will DayZ make the jump? Nothing’s set in stone yet, but it’s definitely something they want to make happen at some point down the road.

Top buys for the week…

Ghost Recon Future Soldier - Raven Strike DLCGhost Recon: Future Soldier – Raven Strike DLC :: PlayStation 3 / Xbox 360 :: $14.99 / 1,200 MS Points

Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier just got a little bit larger. The newly released Raven Strike DLC pack adds three new campaign missions to the game plus an all-new map for Guerilla mode. The missions are the highlight, as you can read in my review. With support for one to four players, you’ve got what amounts to more of the same fantastically well-designed cover-shooting steath/action mix spread out over three sprawling environments. It’s a bit rough around the edges in some ways and there are missed opportunities for even better content here and there, but the overall package is totally worth it if you enjoyed the original May 2012 release.

Double Dragon: Neon :: PlayStation 3 / Xbox 360 :: $9.99 / 800 MS Points

WayForward Technologies has done a dynamite job in the past of tickling the game community’s love for the old days, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the newly released Double Dragon: Neon. The game is fundamentally the same as its coin-op predecessor on a mechanical level, but the graphics have been spruced up and the systems that tie everything together have been blown out in a big way. It’s still just two bro-dudes out to save a pretty lady from the clutches of an evil jerk, but now the action touches on everything from urban back alleys to outer space. It’s totally over the top and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

anomaly warzone earthAnomaly: Warzone Earth :: PlayStation 3 :: $9.99

This isn’t the first time Anomaly: Warzone Earth has been featured in Digital Blend, but this week marks the first time that the game is available via the PlayStation Network. It’s not entirely clear why this mobile-spawned gem of a game isn’t also available for the touchscreen-enabled PlayStation Vita, but Nex heartily approved of the PlayStation 3 port from 11-bit Studios in his review. For those who aren’t familiar, Anomaly is a sort of reversal on the tower defense genre, with players guiding a convoy around a series of maps and taking out various turrets and other emplacements while completing a variety of mission objectives. It’s not the most complex game of this sort that you’ll ever see, but it’s fun, well-designed, and eye-catchingly pretty.

To The MoonTo The Moon :: PC :: $9.99

This week’s lone PC offering isn’t a new release, but it’s new on Steam. Freebird Games’ To The Moon is a point-and-click adventure game with a visual aesthetic that resembles classic top-down RPGs like Final Fantasy. There’s no action in this game, however. To The Moon‘s main hook is its story, a well-written piece of fiction that explores the end of a person’s life through a sci-fi lens. If stories like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind appeal to you, then this is a game you’ll want to check out. Those who already own To The Moon are entitled to a free Steam key. Freebird is also currently working on the game’s second episode, which will presumably hit Steam on day one now that its predecessor is there.

Stickman Base Jumper :: iOS :: $0.99

It’s a quiet week on the mobile gaming front as well, though Djinnworks’ Stickman Base Jumper makes for some great Kleenex gaming until the next $0.99 time-eater comes along. I tend to think that the best mobile games explain themselves more effectively through images than words, and this game is no exception. So instead of reading along as I talk up the game’s simple-yet-eye-catching graphics and straightforward, largely trial-and-error-focused gameplay, why don’t you just watch the trailer?

Editors' Recommendations

The best upcoming Xbox Series X games: 2023 and beyond
Cal Kestis, the main character of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, looks across the horizon.

The Xbox Series X and Series S have now been out for over two years, bringing better resolution, higher frame rates, and ray tracing to gamers around the world. The upcoming Xbox Series X games on this list promise to continue to show off all those bells and whistles in fun, new experiences.

If you're eager to find out what Microsoft has in store for the years ahead, we've rounded up every game confirmed so far, including new offerings, franchise installments, and ports of existing titles. We're looking beyond the first-party projects here to encompass all the great games coming to this powerful piece of gaming hardware.
Confirmed 2023 releases

Read more
Best Buy is having a clearance sale on gaming laptops — from $580
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 2023 front view showing display and keyboard deck.

Best Buy is having a ton of great gaming laptop deals this weekend. Everything from budget HP laptops to high-end Alienware devices are getting big price cuts. We've picked out our favorites below. Don't expect these deals to stick around all weekend though -- grab them while they're still available.
HP Victus Gaming Laptop -- $580, was $800

The HP Victus gaming laptop appears in our list of the best gaming laptops as a great budget option, because you'll be able to play the best PC games with its 12th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card, and 8GB of RAM -- though you may have to choose the lowest settings for some of the more demanding titles. The gaming laptop features a 15.6-inch screen with Full HD resolution and a 144Hz refresh rate, and a 512GB SSD with Windows 11 Home pre-installed.

Read more
Counter-Strike 2 could succeed where Overwatch 2 failed
Soldiers in Counter-Strike 2 key art.

In 2023's most surprising news so far, Counter-Strike 2 is coming. The competitive shooter isn't just a follow-up to the massively popular Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, but an upgrade to that game using the new Source 2 engine. A beta is already underway, with the full game scheduled to come sometime this summer. With how Valve is handling the project, I can't help but think of how Blizzard rolled out its own recent shooter sequel: Overwatch 2.

Both games are highly popular, competitive, and live-service style games with a heavy emphasis on cosmetics for monetization that have highly dedicated communities. The biggest similarity -- and also criticism in the case of Overwatch 2 -- is the fact that both sequels retroactively replace their predecessors, forcing everyone to upgrade to the sequel whether they want to or not. This is a relatively new concept in gaming, where older versions of online games become entirely inaccessible and Overwatch 2 didn't inspire a lot of confidence in it being a beneficial trend. That said, Counter-Strike 2 is already in a perfect position to succeed in all the ways Overwatch 2 failed.
If it ain't broke
In normal circumstances, a sequel is a developer's opportunity to iterate and make alterations to the core of the game that came before. Obviously, there's a limit to how big these changes should be -- a shooter shouldn't suddenly become a 2D fighting game -- but a combination of new features being added and old ones being removed is expected. That becomes a much trickier proposition in this new age of sequels where the new version is the only option. In the case of Overwatch 2 and Counter-Strike 2, players don't have the luxury of being able to keep playing the old version they loved.

Read more