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Well, we did it. We used a ton of gun powder to make pretty shapes and colors in the sky, and we gorged on grilled food as it happened. Our self-appointed roles as Master Pyrotechnicians (read: the person hogging the lighter near a mound of fireworks) also left us without burns, so we're not sure the holiday could have possibly gone better.

Just because the United States and Canada celebrated birthdays this week doesn't mean that everyone took time off though – heck, Cliff Bleszinski is about to end his extended vacation from the gaming industry! We've got details on his return, your last-minute hope to get in on the Evolve alpha, impressions from WildStar, a glimpse at Escape Dead Island and more, all waiting for you after the break!

News
  • If you can be bothered to team up with a few pals and hunt creepy monsters, 2K Games has asked fans to get in on Evolve's 4 vs. 1 action early by signing up for an alpha. While registration only began yesterday, 2K intends to round out its list of volunteers by today. Essentially, if you've any interest in stalking game that's highly capable of putting you in your virtual grave, you might want to sign up immediately!
  • Cliff Bleszinski's siesta from public games projects is nearing its end, as the Gears of War lead has announced his return to development. We won't have to wait long to learn more about his next game either – Bleszinski teased further details "in the next seven days" from his announcement, which would be July 7. In the mean time, Bleszinski has encouraged Twitter followers to watch Boss Key, a new Twitter account that's also teasing news "sooner than we expected."
  • Capybara Games' Super Time Force is currently only available on Microsoft platforms, but Steam users will get a chance to create time paradoxes this summer with the release of Super Time Force Ultra. Capybara's reveal notes that Ultra will include "some very cool (but presently very secret) stuff," which means we're stuck in an era of suspense for now. At least we've got the freshly-released Super Time Force soundtrack to tide us over, right? Well, that and Ultra's excellent STFU acronym, which we're definitely not above snickering about.
  • While we're being juvenile, Yacht Club Games recently shared a ... unique cheat for its retro-themed sidescroller, Shovel Knight. The code unlocks Butt Mode, which replaces nouns in the game's text with "butt." And hey, before you start judging, consider the mounds of dialogue you've ruined with crudely-named protagonists ... Yeah, that's what we thought.
  • Airtight Games has seemingly disbanded less than a month after the release of its latest project, Murdered: Soul Suspect. While it's not a full-on addressing of the situation, a pair of tweets thank fans, family and team members for support and contributions supplied to Airtight's portfolio of games, which includes Quantum Conundrum and Soul Fjord.
  • Anyone that held off on buying extra DualShock 3s can revel in the rewards of their patience, so long as they're also PS4 owners: a recent firmware update for the PS3 has added wireless support for DualShock 4s. Engadget warns that the feature can be "somewhat spotty" depending on the game, but it's probably worth trying out for yourself before spending $40 on a new DualShock 3.
  • It turns out there's plenty of love for Reading Rainbow on Kickstarter – about $5,408,916 worth (plus Seth MacFarlane's contribution of $1 million), if you were to convert said fondness into a giant pile of cash. While fans supplying five times more than the campaign's base goal is impressive, it also cleared a stretch goal related to the creation of Reading Rainbow apps for "consoles like Xbox and PlayStation." Spreading the continuation of Reading Rainbow to gaming consoles as well as mobile phones and the web? You're alright, Internet. You're alright.
  • After the International eSports Federation shared plans to split players into gender-specific tournaments in an upcoming Hearthstone event, backlash was vicious and rampant enough to inspire a sort-of turnaround. While IeSF has now opened tournaments that were previously male-only to all players, it has retained plans to host female-only tournaments, explaining that it intends to provide "female gamers with ample opportunities to compete in e-Sports - currently a male-dominated industry."
  • We get the feeling that someone over at Fox News is a Bioshock Infinite fan, or at least a fan of its logo. The news channel's "Defending the Homeland" segment bears artwork that's strikingly similar to the logo representing Irrational Games' war-torn city in the sky, Columbia. While trademark infringement could be argued, Bioshock creator Ken Levine seemed more keen on appreciating the situation's irony than involving lawyers.

Reviews
  • See that void of nothing behind that tumbleweed? Yeah, that's the first stretch of July's barren release schedule. We're hoping to spot an oasis before the month's end, but in the mean time, you can read our thoughts of recent releases like Shovel Knight and Valiant Hearts: The Great War. Reviews Content Director Richard Mitchell found Shovel Knight to go "beyond simply embodying the traits of its inspiration," while Editor-In-Chief Ludwig Kietzmann described Valiant Hearts as "a war game that recalls, in memories both cheerful and sad, that there is a person first, then a solider, and then – if you're lucky – a hero."

Featured Content
  • The Dead Island series has focused on scrambling zombie brains and hoarding loot at an agile, action-focused pace up to this point, but Escape Dead Island will slow things down a bit. Ludwig fleshed out his initial impressions, which detail the story of Cliff Caylow, a hallucination-plagued documentarian searching for a one-way trip off of the series' island in the Banoi Archipelago. Cliff will struggle to discern what's real when Escape Dead Island reaches Xbox 360, PS3 and PC this fall.
  • Sorting through a new MMO can be a daunting task, but Weekend Editor Sam Prell is doing exactly that with a series of postcards from his venture in WildStar. Sam's latest mailing explores WildStar's gameplay and ability sets, highlighting where it succeeds (and stumbles) in separating itself from other MMOs.
  • There aren't a ton of high-profile releases in July, sure, but that doesn't mean there aren't smaller experiences worth visiting! This week's Super Joystiq Podcast covers such contenders with discussion of Shovel Knight and Child of Light, but there's the upcoming Gods Will Be Watching to consider as well. If you've got plenty to play as is, there's still a broader discussion of adventure games, as well as a tease of the staff's upcoming selections of favorite games from the past decade.
[Image: Wikimedia]

This article was originally published on Joystiq.