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Bull in sheep's clothing

Rockstar's upcoming "thug in a snooty school" simulation Bully has found itself the latest target of self-righteous parents' groups and opportunistic politicians determined to blame videogames for all the world's evils. Apparently, pretend swirlies and dodgeball are now as bad for our youth as virtual murder and muggings.

So imagine the mess we're going to have to clean up when the game's oppressors' heads explode after seeing our new screens and the latest trailer - which seems to reveal that your character befriends the game's geek quotient and defends them against hordes of other bullies. Check it here, but be sure you're mature enough to watch M-rated content (it's trailer 2).

Of course, we could be wrong - your character could still be a total ass - but we love messing with self-righteous, easily-offended people's concepts of good and evil.  



Tap into envy

PC retro-game hub GameTap released a statement crowing about the fact that the service now boasts 600 games from which to choose, for only $9.95 a month. Okay, the site says 500, but the press release says 600. We didn't count, but it'll get there eventually, and the point is: its a hell of a lot more than Xbox LIVE, and many of GameTap's offerings include online multiplayer.

It's a great milestone (and a very cool service), but it has to be at least a little bit frustrating for GameTap to see Microsoft convincing thousands upon thousands of Xbox 360 owners to pay five to ten bucks each for half-assed, often single-player only ports of one classic game at a time.

Hang William

We didn't really care that Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell will be there to virtually suck up to and berate us in Karaoke Revolution Presents: American Idol. But we were happy to see that the song list includes everything from classics like Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" to MySpace darlings Fallout Boy's "Sugar We're Going Down".

You can see the whole list in this news story. The most interesting inclusion, though, is "She Bangs". This series has historically re-recorded all the vocals with sound-alikes, but William Hung is an unlockable character in the game, so we're dying to hear the scratch vocal track for this one. Though odds are good that we'll never want to hear it again after the first time.

Silent killer

Ubisoft has announced the existence of Silent Hunter 4: Wolves of the Pacific, a submarine warfare simulation for PC. We were a lot more excited about it when we thought they were talking about actual aquatic wolves, perhaps quietly fighting off sharks. And even later, when we thought the game included submarine sandwiches. Turns out, it's just submarines. Like, the real ones, that come with no mayo.

But this is the fourth one, so clearly there are a lot of PC gamers who love pretending to plumb the crushing blackness of the ocean's depths in a rickety, claustrophobic, deep sea coffin-to-be. Oh, and blowing the crap out of giant warships, if you're into that.

Football, dammit

Devoted fans of world-rules football - by which, we mean soccer - may find it easier than they might like to choose between a PlayStation 3 and an Xbox 360 this fall. Both publisher Konami's Winning Eleven/Pro Evolution soccer sim and publisher Electronic Arts' FIFA series are set to appear on 360 this year, but neither plans a PS3 version.

Don't get the significance? Imagine that Madden was as popular in every contry as it is here in the US (worldwide, FIFA outsells Maddden). Now, imagine that Madden NFL 07 came out for 360, but not PS3.

Not to overblow this situation, but remember when that very thing happened in 2000, and Madden came out on PS2, but not the Dreamcast? That worked out well, didn't it? 

Radical force

Publisher LucasArts has quietly mentioned that UK developer Free Radical is working upon a Star Wars game for next-gen consoles. Ordinarily, this would barely be a blip on our radar, but when we re-watched the target video that LucasArts recently handed over, we got intrigued.

The art style in the clip could easily be Free Radical. The color palettes are suitably muted, and everything has a sort of very slightly squished look to it (though that could also be the odd aspect ratio the raw footage had). Plus, while Free Radical is best known for its TimeSplitters series, it also made the psychic adventure Second Sight. And it's only a hop, skip and a force jump from hucking stuff around using only your brain to heaving stormtroopers and junk into the path of an oncoming TIE fighter by channeling the collective life force of the universe. Could we have pieced together the clip's true authors?

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