Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Halo 3 Co-op Update

Lukems has updated the Bungie site with some great news about the Halo 3 co-op mode. The game has been tested and polished and will definitely have co-op mode with up to 4 players. Beware the SPOILERS. Here are some of the details:

* Players Can Not Jump In Mid Game
* Players Can Start on Any Level that Has Been Completed by Host
* Each Player Will Have Their Own Character (see below for characters)
* Each Race Starts with Different Weapons (Humans get Human Weapons, Covie Get Covie Equivalent)
* This Will Definitely Change the Way Halo Campaign is Played
* Max 2 Players on Split Screen Co-Op

To keep with the story line and not break the visual continuity there will not be 2 Master Chiefs. Instead each player will be their own character: The Master Chief, The Arbiter, N’tho ‘Sraom, and Usze ‘Taham. Bungie gives a little summary of the two new characters and more should be revealed during the game play.

Gears of War had great co-op moments, but now with 4 players and the large environments that the Halo games usually have, this game is sure to be epic with lots of epic moments. I will definitely need to get a second harddrive to store all the great moments. Boo yaka

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4 Player Co-op in Halo 3 Confirmed

Bungie has announced in Amsterdam today that yes online co-op is in and yes 4 player co-op is in. This comes after leaked information about online co-op was looking rocky. Bungie is going to update their site later today going into more details.

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Monday, July 30, 2007

It's Viva Pinata DS Style

Rare has confirmed that it's coming out with a Viva Pinata for the Nintendo DS and that it will play more along the lines of the original 360 garden creation game instead of the upcoming mini-game collection game, Viva Pinata: Party Animals.

Tending to your garden and interacting with the characters will be done through the DS touchscreen. Rare is saying that "it's the same game". According to a Rare Employee on their forums, the game won't have the same 360 graphics, but the DS team has gotten "most of the features from the original into the DS version".

It will be created by the same team as the 360 version and the graphics will be "beautiful" and the game will be coming soon. No word yet on if you'll be able to mail friends items through Wi-Fi, but I imagine they would set that up like they do for Animal crossing's mail system.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

More Leaked Halo 3 Images

This post will have some SPOILERS, so for those of you who don't want to know anything about Halo 3, please don't read this or click on the images. Leaked copies of a Japanese magazine are showing up on the net with pictures and information about Halo 3. Unfortunately I haven't found a translation yet, but the pictures tell a lot about the rumors flying around.

Some of the things identified in the pictures are:
• Elites are playable in MP mode
• Elites have customizable armor as welll
• A successor to Lockout is in named Guardian
• The Elephant vehicle looks awesome and has multiple players on it and inside it
• More new ground vehicles and flying aircraft
• Forge is definitely a map editor, but not a full on editor, just the ability to edit objects on the current maps, like moving crates and weapons around. Also adding vehicles, like a Scorpion to High Ground
• A new Covie weapon that looks like it may be the laser equivalent

In all the game is looking great. The maps look tight and there seems to be a lot of new weapons and vehicles to play with. Also Forge looks like it will make custom games more customizable, plus Yahoo has posted information that the campaign mode will also see a points system that you can compare to others online. It will apparently gather your meta info after you complete a level. Sounds like a great way to prove that you beat the campaign in under 3 hours.

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LOST Game Trailer

I'm a big fan of the LOST tv show, and when I heard about the video game several months ago I thought what a blow to the LOST universe. Well we haven't seen anything about the game till yesterday when the Gametrailers.com got an exclusive debut.

After watching the preview it feels like Ubisoft took Farcry and threw in the LOST characters. I wasn't impressed at all and now I'm more concerned that the game wouldn't be canonized with the TV show or LOST universe. There was one thing the LOST team was good at and it was creating this LOST world, where every fictional company and person in the show has a site and even a book was created that was written by one of the passengers who died on the flight. They have a really great ARG team running things.

Now this is only a trailer, but a lot of questions come to mind, just like they do when watching the show, like, will there be an ending? Will the TV show be complimented by the game? Will characters show up in the game that never show up in the TV show? Will there be boss fights? Why doesn't www.lostgame.com take me to the LOST section of Ubisoft?

Let's hope the game can be a fraction as good as the TV show and that you really don't need to find home because as fans know that was resolved on season 3.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Magazines become Future Proof

So it has come to the attention of "Official Xbox Magazine" that people don't seem to have the same interest in print news as they did back in ye olden times before the intertubes fed information directly into our thought buckets. So they have come up with the ingenious plan to offer their contents via the XBL Marketplace.

Now when I first read this article I felt enraged that they would have the audacity to charge me for a game demo, but I remembered that some people actually buy that mag for more than just the demo, so after reading further they mention that you would get news, videos, themes, gamer pics, demos etc. at 200MS points an issue. That makes it easier to swallow, but I'm still torn about paying for information that can usually be found free online. Part of me is a fanboy who would throw money away like an idiot for cool stuff, but the realist in me feels that being charged anything for things like is crazy and it should be free and subsidized by ad revenue. Either way it looks like our magazines have found a way to become "future proof".

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Bungie Podcast Now on iTunes

Bungie announced yesterday that their newly revived podcast is now on iTunes and has an RSS feed separate from their news feed. The first podcast was released on 09.22.06, the second one came 9 months later on 07.11.07 with the help of Luke Smith. After a couple of weeks of working on the podcast it now has it's own feed and seems to be coming out weekly with news about Halo 3 release and other Bungie happenings.

I've enjoyed each episode, but unfortunately they haven't been that long and Luke Smith, from 1upyours, is not as lively as he was on that show. Other than that it's a great podcast to subscribe to.

This is great news, but I do recall that Microsoft and Bungie got together and made a Halo 3 Zune. There's no mention if the podcast is in the Zune Store. That would make more sense and help get more users using that service. But since iTunes has a larger audience I guess it makes more sense to just say iTunes. Guess who else is on iTunes? We are.

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360 HD-DVD Price Cuts

Xbox 360 HD-DVD Drive
Microsoft is slashing prices at the Comic-Con in San Diego. Today Microsoft announced that it will lower the price of the "popular" Xbox 360 HD DVD Player from $199 to a whopping $179. Thanks Microsoft for the large savings. $20 off to help promote the movie 300 and Heroes: Season 1, both of which are coming to HD-DVD.

Xbox 360 owners and future owners will be able to future proof their systems on August 1st, when the price will officially drop. So if you were thinking of buying the HD DVD player wait a week and you'll be able to get it for nearly half the price plus $80. Boo yaka.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Microsoft's Perfect Storm is Brewing

At E3, Microsoft promoted a "Perfect Storm" of games for the holiday season. I was looking through some release dates(one of which was added today) and it looks like November will be one of the "stormiest" months of the year.

Now, on one hand, it's fantastic. A lot of games I want to play are coming out. But on the other hand, where will I get the time or money to play them all? I understand that Microsoft wants to make a big holiday splash, but why can't they spread them out some so I'm not going through these droughts? Also, a number of these games are multi-platform so it's also a big storm for other platforms as well.

Here are the November releases I'm looking forward to. Time to start dancing on street corners again to make some extra cash.

Army of Two finally had a release date of November 15th slapped on it today. This game was made to play in co-op mode as you play one of two mercenaries out there fighting wars for money. Their use of customizable weapons and agro should make this shooter pretty fun.

Assassin's Creed is due out sometime in November. The exact date has not been announced yet. This game allows you to take the role of an assassin in Jerusalem in the year 1191 during the Third Crusade. Expect a lot of stealth, hand-to-hand combat and jumping off of stuff.

Call of Duty 4:Modern Warfare may be out November 5th, but that date hasn't been locked down yet. Take on the role of a US or British soldier to fight some rogue factions in the modern era.

Kane & Lynch: Dead Men should be out mid-November. And the game's already been optioned to be made into a movie. In the game, you get to play a "flawed" mercenary and team up with a psychopath to shoot lots of people.

Mass Effect is also due sometime in November. The epic sci-fi RPG has been a long time in the making and highly anticipated. Pick one of six classes and lead your squad on the exploration and defense of the galaxy.

Mercenaries 2: World in Flames should be out the first half of November. They made this one co-op so that should increase the fun exponentially.

Rock Band should be out around November 20th. A chance to pay $200 and rock out on guitar, bass, drums or even sing. Let's get the band back together!

Splinter Cell: Conviction is due out November 16th(although there is a foreign rumor about a delay on the nets today). Play Sam Fisher as you never have before, out in the open without all your fancy tech and sneaking around.

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World of Warcraft Hits 9 Million

Dwarves, elves, gnomes, undead... all WoWers now have a reason to dance. World of Warcraft has consumed its 9 millionth victim... I mean customer. That was the official news from Blizzard today.

The 9,000,000 includes all active accounts including ones still on their free trial time, but it does not include cancelled or expired accounts(such as mine from years ago). This is pretty impressive, and World of Warcraft doesn't look like it will be slowing its momentum anytime soon.

The game has reached this peak less than 3 years after its release in November 2004 and is credited with revolutionizing the MMORPG world. It is still one of the most copied games when it comes to new MMORPGs and takes up a lot of people's time(I know because I have a lot of friends consumed by the game). The game is available in seven different languages and played worldwide.

Let's do some quick math. $15/month subscription fee at 9,000,000 subscribers... $135 million per month?! I need to get out there and program a MMORPG of my own.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Help Create the SSFIITHDR Achievement

Capcoms blog has announced that they will let everyone give their input for the achievements for the upcoming Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix. So visit the blog and leave a comment on the blog and they will consider it. Maybe Capcom should have thought about this first because the comments section is flooded with entries like:
  1. 1st comment--5 perfects
  2. Wah?? No screenshot??? =(
  3. Achievements? Xbox360? I'm on PS3, so what does that mean? Im not sure what Achievements means, but If it can be done, can the Akuma sprites be made in to Goken?

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"Future Proof" Zune 2.0 on the Way

Microsoft has stolen Eric's phrase of "future proof" and applied it to their next generation of the Zune. With the Zune reaching 1.2 million units sold, Microsoft has confirmed a new Zune on the way.

Microsoft's future proof quote was "And one thing about Zune that’s really great for consumers is that the device is future-proofed. Consumers can buy without fear of their device becoming obsolete. Zune’s software (firmware) can be updated so their device gets automatically updated with new features when the new software is launched.”

It is predicted that the new version of the Zune will feature new sizes and styles, be out by Christmas and available in more countries. It should also feature podcasting support and expanded video support. Some are speculating that the next Zune will also expand its use of wi-fi.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Help Pick the Box Art for Call of Duty 4

Ever wondered why some gaming studio put out the ugliest box art you've ever seen on a game you were looking forward to? Well, here's your chance to help decide what art should be on the game box. Over at Infinity Ward's Charlie Oscar Delta website, they have different versions of box art for Call of Duty 4, and they would like your input on which one you'd like best or any changes you'd like.

You need to be a member of the site to see and comment on the pictures. There are five versions currently up, labelled Alpha through Echo. They are all fairly similar with a main modern soldier and then some soldiers and vehicles in the background. They vary mostly in positioning of the soldiers and the title.

While all of the box art shown is Xbox 360 box art, helping pick the box art will still have the same effect for PS3 and PC users.

And while you're at Charlie Oscar Delta, you can also check out the fourth perk that's been revealed: Sleight of Hand. It allows you to reload your gun faster which is always helpful, especially if you like using a SAW.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Wii Need a DVD Playback?

I hate for my first post to be one running around the rumor mill, but with Nintendo's E3 conference being less exciting than changing my Mii's hair style what can I do? Apparently, a rep from Nintendo who would like to remain in the shadows has hinted that this fall Nintendo will be releasing an updated Wii, which just happens to include DVD playback.

Also it seems like Nintendo will be branching out and offering the Wii in a variety of colors. In addition, it looks like the software for the DVD playback will be available for users to download via Wii ware. So for those handful of people who don't own a DVD player, yet another reason to purchase a Wii.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

XYBA Podcast Ep 10.5

Josh and Andy do a post E3 show.

Download XYBA Podcast Ep 10.5

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

No Online Co-op for Halo 3

In a disappointing announcement, Bungie says that there will not be online co-op for the Halo 3 campaign mode. While the lack of online co-op was the biggest complaint abotu Halo 2, the developers are saying they are having too many problems implementing online co-op and are cutting it(for now) to make their deadline.

Bungie has not ruled out the possibility that they would release a downloadable update which would implement online co-op sometime after the game's release. This announcement also squashes the online four player co-op rumors which have been circulating.

Halo 3 will still have a co-op mode, but it will be like Halo 2 - gamers can choose either split screens or a LAN connection.

There's a small possibility the developers could get the online co-op working before release, but most of them have turned their attentions to polishing up everything else to make the September deadline.

I'm definitely disappointed. I figured with a number of other games including two player online co-op nowadays, it wouldn't be a problem for Bungie. After all, they created one of the best online party systems for Halo 2. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, but I'm not holding my breath...

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Peter Moore Takes New Job

Peter Moore is one of the more well known faces of Microsoft's 360 division. He was the Corporate VP of Interactive Entertainment for Microsoft and the keynote speaker at most of Microsoft's 360 press conferences, most notably at E3 throughout the years. Moore has now stepped down from this position to run the sports division at Electronic Arts.

While most gamers know of Moore because of his strange way of showing off big Xbox announcements(getting them prison tattooed on his arm), Moore is still considered one of the most recognizable faces of Microsoft outside of Bill Gates. He has been with Microsoft for only four years but is credited with forming many alliances between Xbox and some big game publishing houses.

Moore says he is leaving Microsoft for personal reasons, but I'm sure his signing bonus of $1.5 million with EA and a yearly salary of $500,000 didn't hurt either.

Moore has been in the gaming business for a number of years, once having been the president of SEGA's American division. Before that, Moore was big in the sportswear industry, including Reebok and Patrick USA.

At Microsoft, Moore's position will be filled by Don Mattrick, who ironically was once a president at EA.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Guitar Hero III with Removable Necks

Guitar Hero II
That's right Guitar Hero III will be like Manhunt 2, where you get to remove necks. But this neck is from the guitar controller and not an enemy on the game. Besides the only real enemy in Guitar Hero is jazz.

According to Joystiq, they got to see some Red Octane wireless guitars that had removable necks and faceplates. So instead of customizing your guitar with stickers you'll most likely be able to add cool faceplates and necks. I guess if you're really into customized controllers that would be exciting.

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Many Retailers Lose on Second Life Gamble

According to the LA Times, a number of real world retailers are starting to abandon Second Life after finding overinflated residental stats, no real viable markets and in some cases facing flat out hostility from Second Life residents.

Many real world retailers are finding it hard to turn a profit in the internet world of Second Life. Critics claim that the companies are too stuck in their old ways. Many businesses simply recreate their real stores in the virtual world. Such bland designs do not go over well with the majority of Second Lifers.

And while Second Life claims over 8 million residents, research shows that at peak times there are only about 30,000-40,000 residents online at a time. The 8 million figures includes everyone who ever made a character even if they only used that character once.

Most people who routinely venture into the Second Life world do not go there to shop for real items. They tend to buy things to make their characters or properties more to their liking. Even a virtual recreation of a the newest Nike sold by Nike has nothing on the shoe designed by another player that makes it look like your character has rocket shoes.

There is still definitely money to be made in Second Life. $6.8 million passed through the Second Life world in June alone(which is a decrease from $7.3 million in May). But the problem is that big companies seem too stuck in a rut to adapt to Second Life's social setting.

A number of residents have even staged violent protests against various corporations in Second Life. American Apparel customers were shot when stepping out of the store. Reebok actually got attacked by a nuclear bomb.

A number of companies who have abandoned Second Life have donated their properties to non-profit groups. Some have vowed to try in other emerging virtual worlds such as Entropia Universe and Gaia Online. Other companies have decided to devote their time and energies to their real world operations instead.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Want to Be in GTA IV?

The first radio station has been announced for GTA IV: WKTT Radio, which stands for We Know The Truth. And developers are giving the fans a chance for their voices to be heard... literally.

In what can best be described as a contest, developers are letting anyone call in and voice their opinion on what "is wrong with Liberty City, America, Liberals or your health."

The number is (212)360-2368, but I suggest going to the website to get all the details. And you'll probably want to read the terms and conditions as well. I scanned through the terms and conditions quickly and mostly they state that Rockstar can do whatever they want with your voice recording and you won't be compensated.

The developers will pick their favorite calls and include them in the game. So there's your chance to be an angry caller on a GTA talk radio station. Bring out the funny, people!

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XYBA Podcast Ep 10

Better late than never, but episode 10 is finally up along with a video. That's what took so long. Join Andy, Charlie, Eric, and Josh as we talk about games, gaming news, and what we think will be at E3. I know, E3 is over, but I thought I would have this up sooner. Enjoy.

00:00 - Opening Music
00:32 - Games We're Playing: Resident Evil 4 Wii, The Darkness, Super Paper Mario, Call of Juarez, Simcity DS and Andy revisits Saints Row, Oblivion, and Crackdown, while Josh revisits Halo: CE
18:40 - Gamestop Darkness Phone # Code: 4263
26:50 - Gaming News: We have listeners and we're available on iTunes, PS3 Price Cuts, Microsoft Price Cut Rumors, Manhug 2 by Take Two, Mass Effect rated and release date rumors
36:20 - Hitler Xbox Live Subscription
36:50 - Josh's camera dies
37:07 - Andy Continues the News: Halo Wars doesn't update site on July 6th, Josh says the Halo Longsword is only in the books. Wrong! The Longsword is the aircraft that the Master Chief escapes in at the end of Halo: CE, Haze, 1-800-MAGIC ends after 4 episodes.
43:12 - E3 stuff (pre-E3 2007 info)
48:00 - Major Nelson and Series of Tubes
52:00 - What We are Looking Forward to at E3: Halo 3 Campaign, Nintendo bringing a dead franchise back, Halo Wars, Gears of War 2, Fallout 3, Mass Effect release dates, Home, and Wii Wear.
1:00:20 - Personal Problems with Xbox 360s
1:10:30 - Andy talks about banned modders purposely bricking their 360s
1:11:50 - Games We're Looking Forward To: Brothers in Arms on DS, The Office on DS, Contra 4 DS, Blue Dragon, GTA IV, Stranglehold, Zelda on DS, Fallout 3, Army of Two, Manhunt 2 unedited, Mario Galaxy, Skate, Bioshock, and Smash Brothers.
1:17:20 - Rants: Video Game Release Dates and No HUDS on games
1:20:00 - Shout Outs: Andy rigged the shout outs
1:21:09 - Outro

Download XYBA Podcast Ep 10

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Rumor: Xbox 360 Price Drop

E3's not even officially over, and the price cut rumors are flying again. Some people are predicting a $100 price cut across the SKUs for the Xbox 360.

This rumor apparently comes from a Canadian retailer who says starting August 1st all three 360 SKUs will receive a $100 price cut.

Now this rumor I'm more skeptical about. Why wouldn't Microsoft announce this at E3? Why hide it? I don't think I believe the hype. Plus, Microsoft needs all that money for the extended warranties they just issued...

But then again, Sony hid their price cut for a long time, and there were all those early reports from retailers about an upcoming price cut. And Microsoft may want to counter Sony's price cut and new release of the 80GB PS3. Also, the Xbox 360 is the longest running console system to not have a price cut. If the 360 Core was cut by $100, it would be cheaper than the Nintendo Wii so it could also counter Nintendo...

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Rumor: Limited 60GB PS3 supplies

I have to give credit for this story to the guys over at Joystiq, but it was something I had to post about. There is a possibility that the 60GB PS3 on sale for $500 is for a limited time only and that once all 60GB PS3 stock has sold out the line will be discontinued, leaving only the $600 80GB PS3.

Joystiq originally posted this rumor as fact but later retracted it when Sony's Dave Karraker contacted them to say they were wrong. But Karraker's quotes don't seem so straight forward to me.

Originally, Sony's European president David Reeves was the one who foretold the end of the 60GB PS3. He was answering questions about why Europeans weren't getting the $100 off like the United States. Reeves said that Europe didn't have enough 60GB PS3 stock and that once all 60GB stock was sold, only the 80GB PS3 would be sold(the 60GB PS3 going the way of the 20GB PS3). He even said flat out that Americans would only be able to buy the 80GB PS3 once all the 60GB PS3s in the US sold out and that the reason for the price drop was to get rid of all the 60GB PS3s.

Now Karraker comes out to put the spin on Reeves statements saying "We have ample supplies of both models to meet the needs of our consumers for the foreseeable future." But that doesn't say that it's forever. Is the foreseeable future a month? A year? How long?

I did some more digging around and found an interview with Sony's president Kaz Hirai at VG TV. The site and interviewer are in a different language, but Hirai's answers are in english. About 1:43 into the clip, Hirai says "Well, again, just from a hardware perspective, the $499 price adjustment that we did for the 60 GB version for the American market, uh we're no longer in production for that product so once that product is gone from the retailers' shelves then we're back to the $599 SKU only so it's not like we have a two price strategy here in the US market which we found out very early on that consumers react mostly just to having one SKU as opposed to having two."

So it seems to me like all the overseas Sony management have no problem saying that the 60GB PS3 is done, but the American Sony branch is trying to keep it secret for a while longer. And as we know from pre-E3, Sony will lie to protect its secret announcements.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Who Wants to Live Forever?

Apparently you do. At least that tends to be the trend with a lot of recent games. And more games are coming where death won't be an issue.

It has just been released that you cannot die in Fable 2. If you get defeated, you will either gain a scar or have to pay a fee if you don't want to scar. So you don't have to worry about checkpoints or restarting levels or anything.

Now this seems to be a trend recently and one of the things cited by many hardcore gamers as proof that games are becoming easier. Other recent games which make death not really a factor are Prey and The Darkness.

In Prey, after you get past the first level or so, death means nothing. You die, go to the spirit world, a quick mini-game and then return to life. In my opinion, it was pretty cheap and lame. And it made the game very easy overall.

The Darkness was a little better. A lot of people complain that it's like Prey because The Darkness brings you back to life. But really, it's not that simple. The game simply makes it look like you come back to life. It's really just instant reloads of various checkpoints because if you kill some enemies and then die before reaching the next checkpoint, the same enemies are back when you "come back to life." (Although your death count and use of powers is maintained so it can be helpful in gaining some of the achievements.)

So, is gaming overall becoming easier with checkpoints and no death being more and more commonplace?

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Nintendo E3 Press Conference Highlights

Nintendo had their press conference. I also did not watch this one, but I will give you some of the highlights.

Game Releases

* 100 US Wii games this year
* 140 US DS games this year
* Brain Age 2 - August 20 2007
* Super Mario Galaxy - November 12 2007
* Smash Brothers Brawl - December 3 2007
* Mario Kart Online - Early 2008
* WiiFit


The Wii Zapper was premeired. It's meant to be held with two hands. Resident Evil Umbrella Chronicles, Ghost Squad and Medal of Honor(up to 32 player multiplayer) will all be created with the Zapper in mind. The Wii Zapper will cost $19.99 if bought individually. Or you can buy it packaged with certain games.

Fads and Casual Gamers

Nintendo admitted they can see how some complain that the Wii is a fad, but they believe the Wii will prove the critics wrong. Nintendo also admitted that some of their games such as DS Cook Book could be a turn off for hardcore gamers, but they believe that starting gamers off with casual games will get them more used to gaming and turn them into lifetime gamers.

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Sony E3 Press Conference Highlights

Sony had their press conference. Sadly, I did not watch it so I can't tell you any lows, but I will give you some of the highlights.

Game Releases

* Metal Gear Solid 4 - Early 2008 and exclusive to PS3
* Unreal Tournament 3 - 2007 Timed exclusive for PS3, UT 3 will also have some crossplatform capabilities with the PC
* Haze - 2007 Time exclusive for PS3
* Infamous - 2008
* Killzone 2 -
* Resident Evil 5 - 2008


NC Soft has signed an agreement to produce exclusive games for the PS3.


Home will include the ability to launch games from within Home. (Which I had already thought they had shown before...)

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Halo Galore

The Halo Universe has just exploded with new content from every angle. Everything from new videos of Halo 3 to a new Halo 3 console. Here's a list of links to check out:

Halo 3

E3 2007 Campaign Trailer Video
Halo: Arms Race Short Movie
Halo 3 Campaign Pics (Check Out the Brute Above)
Halo 3 Xbox 360 Console

Halo Wars

Halo Wars Gameplay Video

Also the 2nd server is now open on Halo3.com for those of you who care. I haven't been able to get it to do anything, but that may be slow server issues. Definitely a lot to take in. I'll be examining the videos and checking out the forums to see if anything else pops up. Until then enjoy.

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Microsoft E3 Press Conference Highlights

Okay, Microsoft's press conference has come and gone. It clocked in at around 80-90 minutes with plenty of speakers and video along with some live gameplay by developers. This is my list of the highs (and lows).

The Highs

Release Dates

Some were newly announced, others simply maintained.

* Bioshock - August 2007
* PGR 4 - September 2007
* Assassin's Creed - November 2007
* Mass Effect now has an official release month - November 2007.
* 2 GTA IV episodes - Out by Spring 2008

New Releases

* Scene It the DVD/board game will be coming exclusively to Xbox 360. The game will include four unique Scene It controllers to play the game.
* Viva Pinata: Party Animals(Xbox 360)
* Resident Evil 5 (Xbox 360)
* Viva Pinata (PC)
* Gears of War (PC) - Will include some extra content and editor


Call of Duty 4 will have a public multiplayer beta exclusively on the Xbox 360.

Xbox Live

Xbox Live membership has reached 7 million users. Membership has been increasing at a rate of almost one per eight seconds. Microsoft expects there to be 10 million users by E3 next year(if there is an E3). I don't know if these numbers are just active accounts or if they include banned and cancelled accounts.

The Lows

Price Cut

Nope. Microsoft says screw the rumors and screw Sony's PS3 price drop. Nobody ever talked about the Xbox 360 price, and it appears to be staying the same.

New Halo 3 360

There is a new version of the Xbox 360 being released at the same time and in honor of Halo 3. It's green with gold plating(instead of the normal chrome). It's controller and accessories are also green. And while they didn't give any specs on it during the conference, it turns out that the one interesting thing about its specs are that while it has a 20 GB harddrive, it has HDMI connectors.

Crowd Reaction

Other than a few hoots and hollers, the crowd reaction was very minimal. Which is to be expected from a crowd of actual journalists. It's a low because the crowd's minimal reaction seemed to throw the speakers off. I think they had gotten used to E3 press conferences of the past where a majority of the crowd would be gamers and not real journalists.

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Call of Duty 4 Beta and Impressions

At Microsoft's E3 Press Conference tonight, the developers of Call of Duty 4 announced an upcoming public multiplayer beta for the Xbox 360. The official website for the beta is http://www.charlieoscardelta.com.

Now the beta and even the signup for the beta is not open yet. I would suggest creating an account at the Charlie Oscar Delta website so you can have quick access to any information they put out about the beta. I would also bet that you need an account to register for the beta.

While I was at the site, I looked around, and I have to say that I have been underestimating Call of Duty 4. It looks amazing. I hadn't paid much attention to it before because it's a wartime FPS, and I figured they are all pretty much the same.

But I didn't predict one of the coolest features I've seen implemented in a FPS in a long time: Perks.

So far they have only revealed three perks, and it looks like perks may only exist in multiplayer. But even if that's true, I'm still very excited about them.

The first perk is Last Stand. See the guy in the picture above, laying next to a chopper with a pistol in his hand? That's Last Stand. When you would normally be dead, you instead fall on your back and pull out your pistol. You cannot move from this position but can fire off pistol shots as you slowly bleed out. Anyone shooting you again will also kill you. And if you don't want to waste time laying around the battlefield, you can also take the "Coward's way out" and kill yourself. This perk allows you to get a last chance to kill someone. I imagine it can be a surprise when the guy you just shot down starts shooting you with a pistol. It's what the Germans would do sometimes in Call of Duty 2.

The next perk is Deep Impact. In COD 4, some guns and bullets will penetrate certain materials such as thin walls, ceilings, floors, etc. The perk of Deep Impact allows your bullets to go further through cover than they normally would. This can mean that your enemy believes he is safe behind a wall, but with your Deep Impact perk, you are still able to kill him without ever seeing him.

The third revealed perk is Double Tap. This allows you to shoot faster than normal with every gun. Obviously, the more bullets that hit an enemy, the faster he dies. Of course, you can also run out of ammo quicker, but you take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the Double Tap.

It appears that there will be default "classes" in COD4 multiplayer that will already have perks, but you can choose your own perk to suit your playing style better. I think this will make playing much more enjoyable and unpredictable to everyone involved.

Good job, infinity ward. And I'll see you at the beta.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Andy's Live Impressions of Microsoft's Press Conference

This is just some of my musings about Microsoft's Press Conference at E3. I'm constantly editing this post as the conference goes. I'm watching the press conference through G4's website. Be warned: this is just kinda a stream of consciousness. Anything major from the press conference will get its own post later.

Five Halo fans from Libertyville, IL? Never heard of it. And I've been all over Illinois. Who are these fans? Oh, they're some kind of teenage band.

Why do I have to hear this band play Halo music? I've heard the Halo theme already. Why is the violin chick so far away from the band?

Video showing fire behind Xbox 360 logo? Is that a wise idea with the overheating issues?

Okay, I don't need to see Peter Moore rocking out to Rock Band. Nice Spinal Tap joke, though. And I could use some closer camera shots.

Why is G4 going to commercial?

Viva Pinata expansion or sequel? Meh.

Mass Effect looks kick ass. Shepard looks a lot better now.

MASS EFFECT on shelves in November!!!

Moore says "We think about a lot more than just hardware." Eric and Charlie would definitely agree with that.

Peter Moore loves to talk about his tatoos.

I should play that GTA: San Andreas.

Pretty decent job with the game montage.

Scene It exclusive to Xbox 360. Who cares? Interesting new controller for Scene It. Makes me care a little more. Ooh. Four controllers come with the game for only $60. Nice.

I've watched Nauruto. I don't understand what they're doing in it. Competing Ninja clans? I have no idea.

Ok, that game trailer really told me nothing about Nauruto the game. Is it just a fighter? An adventure? I guess I understand it as much as I do the cartoon.

Sports games. *zone out*

Awkward banter between professional football player and Jim. Stepping on each other's lines. Two guys in suits playing video games against each other.

Football player scores touchdown on Jim and starts trash talking. No wonder the kids on Xbox Live are such jerks.

7,000,000 Xbox Live members. New member every 8 seconds. Predict 10 million Xbox Live members by this time next year. (Do these numbers include banned or inactive accounts?)

Classic Bomberman on XBLA. I thought that was supposed to come out two weeks ago. Still sweet.

Hexic 2?

Sonic on XBLA. Doesn't that come out tomorrow? Same with Golden Axe.

I don't know what most of these XBLA games are.

Yep. I was right about Sonic and Golden Axe.

They seem to expect bigger cheers than they're getting. Is that because of the smaller group of attendees, most of whom are actually real gaming journalists? I know when I worked in news, we never cheered for anything.

Now they're pimping the downloadable videos.

Some of the movies they're showing as downloadable suck, some I own, but most(if not all) are old. Ok, I see, they're available in HD.

"Wildly popular 360 Elite"? Might not be accurate.

Is Jim really small or Shane Kim big?

Gotta mention Halo 3 again.

Racing games. bah

The game developer playing PGR needs to stop doing wheelies on the motorcycle. I can't see the environment when his headlights are pointed in the air since it's a nighttime race and raining.

The developers say that PGR is the first racing game that will allow you to share racing videos and pictures with your friends. Burnout Revenge allowed you to share videos with friends and other gamers...

PGR in September.

I don't know about that Lost Odysey. It might be okay, but it doesn't fill me with awe.

Viva Pinata and Gears of War to Windows.

Game editor for Gears of War on Windows? Cool.

Cliffy B looks cleaned up. He must have actually showered and shaved. He looks like Sherman from the American Pie movies.

You get to fight the one big monster in the Windows Gears. I wonder how much extra content is in the Windows version. One boss fight? One level? More?

10,000,000 gamers using Windows Vista? Doubtful. Maybe 10,000,000 copies of Windows Vista sold. Maybe.

Bioshock in August.

They keep saying Call of Duty 2 and Call of Duty 4. Do we pretend that Call of Duty 3 never happened? Just like Highlander 2?

Is someone always going to be telling you what to do in Call of Duty 4?

If they're going to keep this presser at the predicted 75 minutes, they better keep an eye on the clock.

Call of Duty 4 open multiplayer beta. Need to check that out. What was that site? charliealphadelta.com? (Edit: Nope. It was http://www.charlieoscardelta.com)

GTA IV trailer 1 & 2 were captured from an Xbox 360.

2 exclusive GTA IV episodes by Spring 2008.

Resident Evil 5 coming to Xbox 360. Trailer available July 26.

I thought they said all the games they were showing would be available this year. Resident Evil 5 won't be out until 2008 at the earliest.

Assassin's Creed. He jumps off a tall building and starts shoving people around.

I think the guy playing Assassin's Creed screwed something up. Or the woman narrating doesn't know what's happening.

Why are the Assassin's Creed enemies attacking him one at a time like movie thugs? That doesn't seem realistic.

Assassin's Creed November 2007.

About 80 minutes into press conference.

Halo Wars trailer. Kinda like Starcraft II's trailer.

Halo 3 Xbox 360. It's green. Is that just a skin? Kinda lame.

Moore's wrapping it up. Hey, where's my Xbox 360 price cut?!? Boo!

Halo 3 trailer time.

Good thing I'm recording this because I need to watch that Halo 3 trailer again.

Bah. Those kids are playing music again.

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Microsoft Working on New 360?

Apparently, Microsoft is working on redesigning the Xbox 360 again. The new 360 is currently being called the Falcon. It is a smaller, quieter and cooler version of the 360.

As technology progresses, the components used in the 360 become cheaper and more improved. Microsoft also is working on fixing some of the original design flaws. Newer 360s already use some 65 nm chips instead of the original 90 nm chips. In the Falcon, all the chips are expected to be 65 nm which means the power consumption of the Falcon will be about half of the original Xbox 360.

Overall, the Falcon should function the same as any Xbox 360, just smaller, quieter and with less failure rates. Microsoft has not produced a release date yet for the Falcon or pricing.

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Monday, July 9, 2007

Got My System Back... Oh Wait, No I Didn't

I got a box from UPS today that had an Xbox 360 inside, along with a letter. The letter said, "So that you can get back to playing and enjoying your Xbox quicker, we have replaced your Xbox console with a replacement unit." That's great. My system, that was maybe a month old has been replaced with one that could be a year old and have bricked before. But there's a bright side, they gave me a one month subscription to Xbox Live. Thanks a lot, jerks. Microsoft blows, but at least if I want to move my system right next to my computer so I can hook it up to the internet, I could play games online for free (which is how much it costs on every other console) for one month.

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Sunday, July 8, 2007

New Improved PS3 (or Price Drop)

Well, it's official. Only hours after we finished recording our 10th podcast where we briefly discussed Sony dropping the PS3 price, Sony has declared a price drop of $100 for the 60 GB PS3 starting tomorrow(Monday the 9th). Or you can pay the normal $600 for a new PS3 SKU coming out in August in North America which will have an 80 GB harddrive and a copy of Motorstorm.

Apparently, Sony wanted to get this price drop out there before Microsoft's press conference Tuesday at E3 where Microsoft is rumored to be announcing a price drop as well.

I find it interesting that the PS3 considers the 20 GB of extra harddrive space worth $100. We've had many arguments about it with the Xbox 360 at XYBA because their 20 GB harddrive retails for $100 and their 120 GB harddrive retails at $180.

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Saturday, July 7, 2007

Happy Bungie Day

July 7th marks "Bungie Day" in the Bungie.net community. In honor of this world wide celebrated holiday all state employees should be off of work today as well as most employees in the private sector. Also Bungie has posted some great 3D Quicktime movies giving fans the ability to see the new C.Q.B. and E.V.A. armor from almost all angles. The Brute Chopper is the most interesting because it is set in the new map Shrine, so you're able to see more of that map than in the past.

If you have a 360 with an online account, be sure to check the themes and gamer pics area because there is content that will be there for today only (07.07.07) and then they will be gone forever.

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Thursday, July 5, 2007

Microsoft Extends Some Warranties

Because of the recent flood of broken Xbox 360s(some reports indicate possibly 33% failure rate) and the bad press that's gone along with it, Microsoft has extended some Xbox 360 warranties from 1 year to 3 years.

That's right. I said some. The wording is somewhat unclear. "New users and users who have not experienced these problems will continue to fall under the 1-year warranty plan."

Apparently, the warranty increase only applies to 360 owners who have experienced the 3 Red Rings. What's confusing is if the warranty will suddenly cover someone who experiences the Red Rings after their first year is over?

It's good to see Microsoft taking steps to help users because of the Xbox 360's hardware problems. Experts say the extension of warranties could cost Microsoft over a billion dollars(which seems high to me).

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Wednesday, July 4, 2007

July Game Releases

It's July! And nothing celebrates America's independence like a load of new games. Check the comments to see the new releases. Remember, most of the dates are provided by EB Games with a few changes.


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Monday, July 2, 2007

Sony Fires Another Shot in Format War - Free Movies

In an effort to drive up Blu-Ray DVD player sales, Sony has started a new promotion. When buying a Blu-Ray player from Panasonic, Phillips, Pioneer, Samsung, Sony Electronics or Sony Computer Entertainment(that includes the PS3), consumers can take part in the mail-in offer and receive 5 free Blu-Ray movies. The promotion started July 1st and ends September 30th.

The movies consumers can choose from are:

Black Rain
Blazing Saddles
Chicken Little
The Corpse Bride
The Devil's Rejects
The Guardian
Hart's War
The Italian Job
Kiss of the Dragon
The Last Waltz
The Omen [2006]
Pearl Harbor
The Phantom of the Opera
Resident Evil: Apocalypse
Stir of Echoes
The Transporter 2
Underworld: Evolution

Five free Blu-Ray movies is a sweet deal, especially since each movie can set you back $20-30. So that deal could be worth up to $150. Sadly, the selection to choose from is not the best, but free movies are still my favorite kind of movies.

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