Here is my first blog post since the relaunch of Xboxer. Since it tis the season I figured I’d do a post about things to watch for this holiday season. Maybe you’re looking to buy your gamer buddy something cool or shopping for yourself, you’ll find something for everyone.
Microsoft excerpt: Own the Xbox One 1TB Holiday Bundle, featuring Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Rare Replay, and a full-game download of Ori and the Blind Forest. Play and store more games than ever with the 1TB hard drive. Experience the original Gears of War rebuilt from the ground up in 1080p, including 60FPS competitive multiplayer with 19 maps and six game modes, and five campaign chapters never released on console. Play a jaw-dropping collection of 30 iconic games with Rare Replay. And immerse yourself in the critically acclaimed action-platformer, Ori and the Blind Forest.
Xbox Elite Bundle
The Xbox Elite Bundle is sexy. Plus you get that badass new controller Microsoft has been working on. It is $150 alone so you probably want to avoid that unless of course you already own the Xbox one in which case you are screwed and will have to bite the bullet. Probably the best way to make your console gamer friends jelly.
Basically if you need seating there’s no better place to go than X Rocker. They’ve got the best chairs that really do rock. The prices aren’t bad, plus you get built in audio and you can move as close to the TV as you want. Check out the lineup at Amazon.com.
So you’re probably aware that Windows 10 has been released and is being rolled out to computers for free. Unless you have been living under a rock of course. It has generally been well accepted by critics and users. It is honestly like Windows 7 with a bit more polish. It also has Cortana and voice recognition features. I believe this month Xbox One is getting a giant update so it is like compatible with computers with Windows 10. That means you can play games on either system you want. I’ve been getting my gaming room ready for this for like the past 6 months and I got a nice PC and console/TV set up. Yeah my lair is the best place to escape to after a long day.
The amazingly eclectic mixture of movies on the UK Video Store has been updated again, with such joys as Fred Claus, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and incredibly dull Hallmark Channel fodder like The Fugitive and Analyse This also appearing for download.
Of possible interest to all you specialists out there is Eyes Wide Shut, with the bleak Kubrick non-epic now yours (until it auto-deletes once you’ve watched it) for 380 MS Points (£3.20) and a massive 7.2GB download, should you want to scrutinise Nicole Kidman’s skin and nipples in HD. The SD version is a more manageable 1.7GB and marginally more reasonable 250 Points (£2.10).
Also “new” in the sense that it hasn’t been previously made available via Xbox 360 until now so is “new” to the Xbox 360 digital delivery download scene, is Lethal Weapon 4, available in standard definition only. At least now you don’t have to stay up until 1.15am to see the end.
The Black Friday discount sales bonanza, which struck last week and triggered the American sales spree that is the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, saw Xbox 360 literally RUIN AND DESTROY Sony’s PS3 – thanks to selling over THREE TIMES as many consoles.
Microsoft said Xbox 360 sales were 25% up on last year’s Thanksgiving weekend figures, helping the company humanely smother away what little life Sony’s console has left in it. Here’s how Don Mattrick, senior vice president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, put it. He should’ve used some smiley faces.
“Record Black Friday sales in the U.S., coupled with our existing global install base of 25 million and an online community of more than 14 million Xbox LIVE members, have laid the groundwork for continued global sales momentum in 2009.”
Don went on to say that Xbox 360 has sold nearly DOUBLE the amount of units in Europe in 2008 as it did in 2007, adding, once more, that the console is currently beating PS3 in Europe too. Sadly, Don neglected to mention how many Wiis Nintendo has sold. It was probably at least 200 more.
Last year’s FIFA played a great game of footy. Thoughtful, considered, intelligent and well-made, for my money it knocked Pro Evo into a cocked hat for the first time in…well, ever. With UEFA Euro 2008 further improving on the formula – picking up the pace and making it slightly less impossible to score – my hopes at least are very high for this year’s iteration. So it’s nice to hear a bit of info about this potential world-beater – these following tidbits come from US mag GamePro.
Apparently, all movements in the game (like passing and jostling for example) happen much faster, allowing for more fluid and realistic play – leaving it closer to the frenetic pace of the Premiership than the slow, measured approach of the continental game. I hope the ramp up in speed isn’t too drastic – UEFA had it just about spot-on, and taking it too much further would take the tactical edge off. The game’s improved animations will now affect the gameplay too – if you see your player wobbling from an attempted sliding tackle, you can rebalance him, while a wrong-footed ‘keeper can now reach behind to save deflected shots.
The rest touches briefly upon Be A Pro but no further improvements are mentioned. I’m sure there will be a few tweaks to that particular mode, but otherwise things are looking and sounding good. Fingers crossed EA can build upon last year’s superb effort and give us a footy game that’s worth playing for the full year between updates. Or maybe – gasp – even longer.
Microsoft has announced that a new first-party studio has been set up to make content for Xbox Live. Speaking recently to next-gen.biz, Xbox Live general manager Marc Whitten stated that “The main idea behind the concept is to invest deeply in developing original content that will be compelling and exclusive to Xbox Live.” He also stated that XBLA titles were in development.
It’s good that Microsoft is finally taking a more active approach in adding content to Xbox Live. It’s a service with an awful lot of potential, yet we rarely see titles that push the envelope in terms of taking advantage of Xbox Live’s online features. There’s a lot of fun stuff you could do with multiplayer gaming, but we’ve yet to see a really decent flagship title that really champions Live.
Probably one for the rumour file at the moment, but it looks like Resident Evil 5 could be getting a co-op mode. The source is a Games Radar article that was mysteriously disappeared shortly after it went live. According to Eurogamer, the article stated that you’ll be accompanied by a female mercenary who’ll be computer controlled when she’s not being controlled by a player. A second player can apparently drop in as her at any time.
It’s a highly plausible rumour. We’ve seen Capcom experiment with multiplayer before with the Outbreak series. It didn’t work, largely because the infrastructure wasn’t quite there yet. Not a lot of people had internet-capable PS2s and there was no voice communication. With Live and its now almost ubiquitous voice chatting functions, an online enable co-op could work very well indeed.
Originally, I was a bit pessimistic about the whole chapter structure of Alone in the Dark. There was something just a bit odd about being able to skip difficult missions, something that felt almost like cheating. He raises a good point though- so many people don’t play their games all the way through to the end. Developers sometimes lose it a bit at the end, knowing that a lot of gamers won’t get that far. Possible cutscenes would be an interesting way of getting around this problem. Can’t wait to see if it actually works.
There was quite a shocking press announcement late last week – SEGA Rally 3 exists and will be coming to arcades very soon. The game’s actually a tweaked, 60fps version of the recent remake for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, with a few enhancements designed to make it more thrilling for the arcade crowd.
Coin-op loving blog Arcade Heroes attended the launch event, walked away suitably impressed by the upgraded PC-powered arcade version and took the following blurry but well-meaning photograph:
Even though the console remake of SEGA’s classic racing series didn’t exactly set the sales charts on fire last year, it’ll be good to see the SEGA Rally brand back where it belongs – in the dark corners of the pubs and airport departure lounges of the nation.
I’m sorry, developers of Buku Sudoku and Warlords. But I’m just not remotely interested in your games. Your titles are both coming out this Wednesday, the former for 800 points and the latter for 400. But I want Braid. I want Bionic Commando. 1942: Joint Strike. Those are the games to get excited about. Not a game recreating my dad’s favourite pastime, or a remake of an old Atari ‘classic’.
But that’s what I – and the millions of other Live users – are getting, so I guess I’d better get used to it. And who knows? Maybe these games are actually quite good. The former at least has some nice presentational touches.
Still: odds on this pair being delisted by this time next year? 4-1 on. A nailed-on bet, I reckon.
Stop. I know that. I know it doesn’t matter that GTA IV apparently has “high[er]-quality textures and the depth/normal maps that go with them” on 360. Or, indeed, that the PlayStation 3 sometimes comes ahead with better shadowing and antialiasing”. But this last sentence – from Gamespot’s thorough comparison of the two versions – made me pause for thought.
“Overall, the PlayStation 3 outputs visuals that are either on par with the Xbox 360 or only slightly behind.”
Okay. So the PS3 just about matches up to the 360, or is only very slightly behind. But isn’t that nothing like it was supposed to be? Wasn’t the PS3 supposed to be the world’s most powerful games console? Wasn’t the power of the Cell going to blow Microsoft’s console out of the water?
Evidently, that’s not been the case, and there’s precious little evidence to suggest that any forthcoming title from Sony is going to do anything with PS3 that would trouble the 360’s processors. While graphical comparisons aren’t really the done thing when it comes to a game like GTA, for those obsessed enough with technology that they can only possibly have the best of the best, you can rest assured that with the 360 you’ve got a console that can – at the very least – boast of being the joint most-powerful machine currently on the market. And who’d have believed that when the PS3 launched?