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Dead Rising 2 Prequel Coming August 31st July 22, 2010

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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Capcom has announced the release date of the next chapter in the Dead Rising storyline, Dead Rising: Case Zero is the prequel game that will bridge the gap between the events of Dead Rising 1 and 2.

You play as Dead Rising 2’s protagonist Chuck Greene, where you will have to fight your way through an infected desert town, at the same time keeping your daughter, who has been infected with the zombie virus, protected and her condition suppressed.

I’m really looking forward to this game.  I make it no secret I was a big fan of the first Dead Rising when it came on the 360 in 2006.  This game will sport a similar real-time system just like the first game had.  You will constantly be checking your watch to monitor your daughter’s condition while you fight off waves of zombies going from place to place.  This should be a very appetizing setup, and we may get to see just how Greene ended up in the casino city.  I’m personally hoping for a cameo by Frank West, the hero of the first game, but that might be too much to hope for, especially given how many ending possibilities the first game had.

Dead Rising: Case Zero will be released August 31st, 2010 for 400ms points only on the Xbox Live Marketplace.


Live Anywhere 4 Years Later July 22, 2010

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.

Back in 2006 Microsoft announced something grand, perhaps too grand.  Their inital attempts to bring users closer to it flopped, and the rest that came along with it just never happened.

Try to remember what was happening in 2006 if you can.  Microsoft was throwing everything they possibly could to promote the ill-fated Windows Vista.  They knew they had a bloated, unstable operating system that no one wanted, so they were going to pull every dirty trick in the book to force people to buy it.  DirectX 10 exclusivity wasn’t going to be enough since most games weren’t going to support it at the OS launch given the anticipated low install base.

On top of that Microsoft had an OS for a series of phones that were selling moderately due to the wide amount of hardware and the wide popularity of cell phones, but could have been doing better.

They also knew they had one hell of a success in the Xbox 360.  It was the biggest selling product of the 2005 Christmas season.  The games for it were selling very well, even the bad ones, because they implemented a cross-game score system of achievements.  The gamers were going crazy buying new games just to increase their gamerscores, which granted them nothing but bragging rights.

So, how do you take the massive success of one platform and try to bring that success over to your other products?  Well, you take what worked in that platform and you bring it to the other two.  The thing that worked was a unified Xbox Live profile, and the solution was Live Anywhere.

In 2006 just before the release of Windows Vista, Microsoft spoke to the press about their plans for Live Anywhere, a cross-platform integrated gaming network designed to work on your cell phone, computer and console, enabling functionality at every turn and keeping gamers connected to live even on the go.

You would expand your Xbox Live account to your PC and phone.  You could spend all night racing your car on your Xbox 360 against people on the PC or the 360, check your statistics on your PC and compare them to gamers all around the world, and while you’re on the go make some tweaks to your car’s appearance and paint job from your cell phone.  At the time, that was revolutionary.  All it would require was Windows Vista, an Xbox Live account (which if you didn’t have you’d still have to pay 50 a year to play multiplayer on PC, even without an Xbox), and a compatible cell phone.  As long as you had the game, you’d be able to use this functionality anywhere you had access to these devices.  The first games to support this revolutionary platform?  Shadowrun, which would be released on the PC and Xbox 360 and support cross-platform multiplayer gaming, and the much-anticipated PC version of the biggest seller of the original Xbox, Halo 2 PC.

Shadowrun and Halo 2 PC flopped.  By making a 2-year-old Xbox game have a Windows Vista installation requirement, most consumers either passed it up, or continued playing their Xbox versions.  Shadowrun was a multiplayer exclusive game, and not a very good one.  The revamp to the Windows Phone platform never came, and Live Anywhere took a major hit, setting it back years.  Microsoft realized they screwed their PC gamers which had been getting multiplayer for free since the DOS days and refunded anyone who paid for a Live account without an Xbox and gave everyone their fifty dollars back, making the PC component of their multiplayer games free again.

In 2008 Apple perfected their iPhone design when they released the iPhone 3G.  Finally a phone was released that was both technologically advanced enough to support everything the Live Anywhere platform promised, but was also affordable to the enthusiast consumers.  Microsoft could have made the Live Anywhere platform compatible with the iPhone, but for no reason they never did, and for years there was no progress bringing Live to cell phones.

PC vs Xbox 360 plans have been scrapped.  The reason why is the same reason gamers said PC versus Xbox 360 games wouldn’t work.  A controller is not as precise with aiming as a keyboard and mouse is.  The PC player has just too much of an advantage, and even with autoaim cranked up as high as it can go, an experienced PC player was beating an experienced Console player every time.  This is probably also why games like Halo 2 and Gears of War were never made cross compatible.  If a game like Shadowrun, which was designed from the ground up to be platform cross compatible couldn’t work, what chance did any other game have?

Windows 7 series phones are expected to have Live access, and games with achievements that will count towards your gamerscore, however given the fact that the OS has been constantly delayed, is not compatible with current phones, and better options like Android and iOS4 are currently available to buy, these are not expected to sell very well.

I really was looking forward to this technology when it was announced, and while it never fully realized its potential (because Microsoft would never release it on the iPhone), it was a failed giant step which promoted smaller successful baby steps.  Games for Windows Live is widely adopted by many game developers, enabling achievements, stat tracking, and messaging between the Xbox 360 and PC.  I’m hoping that Microsoft swallows their pride and releases an app for the iPhone and Droid that could enable Xbox Live account control from your cell phone, but I have no reason to suspect that’s going to happen before Windows Phone 7 launches.  Maybe if it flops like the Kin, they’ll consider it longer.

What do you all think?  Was this too grand a plan? Or was the implementation of the plan doomed to failure?  Do you think it’ll ever be fully realized?  I want to hear from all of you.

Epic Gives the Power of Life and Death in Gears of War 3 July 22, 2010

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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And I thought I was stuck in 1997, Epic seems like they’re stuck in 1993, back in the heyday of the invention of 1-900 numbers.  Remember how that went?  Okay I’ll tell you.

In 1993, DC Comics had this brilliant idea with the heyday of interactive premium telephone and 1-900 numbers to set up a poll of the readership to determine the resolution of a cliffhanger.  But with something like this there had to be something major at stake.  Jason Todd, the second person to carry the title of “Robin” was trapped in a building with a bomb left by The Joker.  The bomb went off, and Batman was unable to get there in time.  Did he survive it?  You call one number and he dies, you call another and he lives.  You’ll be charged for each call.

Well what happened?  Because they had to pay for it, the majority of people who really hated Jason Todd called in.  When the final count came down, Jason Todd was going to die and there was nothing DC could do about it.

DC never did anything like that ever again.

In 2010, Epic is letting their fans vote on the life or death of one of their new characters, a new member of the Carmine family.  They will be offering two different avatar t-shirts for sale on Xbox Live Marketplace, one promoting that Carmine lives, and one promoting Carmine’s death.  Whichever shirt sells more will determine if the character will survive Gears of War 3.  All money from the proceeds are going to benefit Child’s Play.

The entire Carmine family has not done well in the Gears of War games, currently they’re at 0-2, with a different member of the family being killed at or around the beginning of each game.

Gears of War 3 is coming April 2011 only for the Xbox 360.

Microsoft Kinect Launches at $149 July 20, 2010

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The price for the highly anticipated Xbox 360 peripheral, the Microsoft Kinect has been announced, and it’s $149 US.

Formally known as Project Natal and first premiered at E3 2009, the Kinect is a motion capture camera peripheral, allowing players full body motion capture for gaming input, increasing the functionality of the Xbox 360.

The price is 50 dollars higher than the Playstation Move controller bundle of the Move Controller and Playstation Eye Toy, but gaming reviewers seem to forget that the second part of the Move controller (similar to the Wii’s nunchuck) is an extra 25.

Microsoft Kinect is coming November 4th, 2010.  15 launch titles will come out with the peripheral.  It is only compatable with the Xbox 360.

Rock Band 3 Preorder Incentives Announced July 20, 2010

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Harmonix has announced that several retailers are offering goodies to people who preorder Rock Band 3.

GameStop Pre-order* Opportunity:
GameStop shoppers who reserve Rock Band 3 for PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 in advance receive three downloadable Rock Band songs at launch:

• Burning Down the House by Talking Heads
• My Own Summer by Deftones
• Blue Monday by New Order

Amazon Pre-order* Opportunity:
Amazon shoppers who reserve Rock Band 3 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii in advance will receive access to an exclusive in-game guitar. Additionally, for a limited time only, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 owners who pre-order Rock Band 3 in advance on Amazon will receive $10 off a future videogame purchase.

Wal-Mart Pre-order* Opportunity: shoppers who reserve Rock Band 3 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii in advance will receive a $10 eGift card for a limited time.

Rock Band 3 has really impressed me with all the new gameplay possibilities that it offers, including the keyboard instrument, multi-person vocals, and the pro mode.  By evolving the gameplay with every release they’re really offering their players a lot of incentive to buy the game at full retail price opposed to offering a song pack as DLC.

Rock Band 3 is coming for Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii October 26th, 2010.

DC Universe Online Taking Beta Testers July 20, 2010

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Sony Online Entertainment is taking beta testers for the highly anticipated DC Universe Online, where you will be able to fight alongside the superheros of the DC Universe against supervillians and other rogues.

Beta tests are being accepted for both the PS3 and PC version of the game.  You can sign up for the beta here.

The PC version will also get a Collector’s Edition, featuring issue #0 of DC Universe Online: Legends comic book.

Gran Turismo 5 Coming November 2nd, 2010 July 17, 2010

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Sony has announced that the most anticipated racer on the Playstation 3 finally has a release date.

This announcement ends one hell of an epic story about the development of the series on this console generation. Gran Turismo 5 has been anticipated since even before the release of the Playstation 3. Before the PS3’s release, there were two GT games in development at Sony, Gran Turismo 5 and Gran Turismo HD. HD was going to be released inexpensively and offer the player extra content in the form of DLC, allowing them to purchase extra cars and tracks. Gran Turismo 5 was expected to be a return to form of the classic series, a full priced game with all the cars and tracks released with the game.

Gran Turismo HD was cancelled before the PS3’s release, and it’s content consisting of one track and a dozen cars was released for free on the Playstation Network to the PS3’s early adopters. It was taken offline some time before the release of the Metal Gear Solid 4 80GB PS3 bundle, although anyone who downloaded a copy of the game before it was taken down is still able to re-download it.

Gran Turismo 5 on the other hand has been in a very long development. To tide gamers over, they actually released Gran Turismo 5 Prologue in 2007 and charged $39.99 for both the disc and downloadable version. It included only a few cars and a few tracks, and the Blu-Ray version contained an exclusive documentary on Gran Turismo.

A Collector’s Edition has also been announced to be released on the same day. It will retail for $99.99 US and will include a scale replica car, a custom key chain, codes for five downloadable cars, a 300 page book, and a numbered certificate of authenticity. More details about it can be found here.

Gran Turismo 5 will be coming November 2nd, 2010 exclusively for the Playstation 3.

Alan Wake DLC Achievements Posted July 16, 2010

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The achievements for the first DLC episode of Alan Wake have been posted to Xbox Live.

A Friend in Need – 25G
Special 1: Find someone to help you.

A Friend Indeed – 50G
Special 1: Follow the signal to its conclusion.

Fast and Furious – 25G
Special 1: Make it through the final battle in less than 1 minute and 30 seconds.

Words Will Never Harm You – 25G
Special 1: Trigger all of the furnaces in the basement.

Run-On Sentence – 50G
Special 1: Complete the episode without reloading the game or restarting a checkpoint.

License Revoked – 20G
Special 1: Complete the episode without using a single vehicle.

Tick Tock – 30G
Special 1: Discover 10 hidden alarm clocks.

Cardboard Companions – 25G
Special 1: Discover all of the cardboard standees.

That makes for 9 achievements total and a possible 250 achievement points.

Alan Wake’s first DLC is coming July 22nd for free with included game code, 560ms points otherwise.

Dead Rising 2 Zombrex Edition Announced July 16, 2010

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Capcom has announced there will be a Dead Rising 2 Collector’s Edition, dubbed the Dead Rising 2 Zombrex Edition.

The Zombrex Edition will include tons of medicinal goodies, playing into a lot of the promotion done for the game up until this point (where press members were given “innoculations” while shotguns were always at the ready just in case).  Things like a syringe, a medicine pad and a safety info card will be included in the game, as well as a “making of” video.  They really seem to be intent on reminding the players that this zombie virus was medically created, and up to this point can only be medically delayed, not sure if there’s a cure yet.

The Xbox 360 version will include the entire live action Dead Rising Sun film made as a promotion for the game’s release.  The PS3 version will come with an exclusive dynamic theme.

The ZE will be avalible for Xbox 360 and PS3 September 28th, 2010.  It will retail for $79.99 US.

November Xbox 360 Update Will Upgrade Interface July 15, 2010

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Screenshots have leaked onto the web which have been confirmed by Microsoft as genuine that have depicted a new interface for the Xbox 360, scheduled for release alongside the November update.

The new menu options include support for the Xbox Live Family Plan, where you can have four Xbox Live accounts running for 100 a year (half the price of 4 separate accounts), giving parents greater control over their children’s Xbox Live accounts.

I don’t agree with putting restrictions into hardware use for any reason, or for that any use of console lockouts or v-chips based on rating as I consider that age discrimination, but I’m not a parent and I know that gaming parents do appreciate having this kind of technology available to them.