You can dismiss the Halo: Reach branding here, this is just your standard Gold membership...except you're basically getting two months free. With Reach shaping up to be the biggest game of the year for X360, and you can bet your ass the final multiplayer will sit pretty around the top of the LIVE charts for the coming months, missing out really shouldn't be an option. Plus it's our duty to revel in the fact that the UK price for a year of Gold hasn't gone up...unlike that of our special neighbours across the pond.
Jon and I arrived in Cologne borne, it seemed, on a sea of iPhones with our rather more established counterparts all sporting Apple's wonder gizmo. By comparison our Batphones – the falsely-advertised Nokia XpressMusic 5800s – were like sizing up a Mensa wizard with an ELC calculator. 'God we need iPhones' was the primary utterance for the first hour after touchdown.
But perhaps not.
Expecting to see a cavalcade of Kinect-based stuff we'd already kicked around with at the Galleries over in Covent Garden, we were pleasantly surprised to find so much more...including a hands-on play with the Xbox LIVE experience on the new Windows 7 Mobile.
Testing things out on a prototype courtesy of Samsung, I was surprised to find that everything worked really very well indeed. The menu system, whilst pretty blocky and hardly stunning is perfectly serviceable, customisable and allows you to navigate with ease. It'll have all of the usual mod cons that you want from an accessible smartphone these days, but what we're really looking for is the Windows LIVE experience that's been promised.
You'll find pretty much everything you can find on the Dashboard of your 360 here. Avatars were fully integrated into pretty much everything and customising them was a breeze. Messaging, obviously, was a cinch and it was easy to bring up your list of friends, Achievements, statuses and leaderboards with a dab or swipe of your finger. Oh yeah...and Halo Waypoint.
We've seen a few developer videos touting XNA games on the platform but yet to really see how it'll work. Well, that all changed today as I was handed a phone and told to go nuts. First up? Twin Swords a side scrolling hack and slash title with some light RPG elements and lots of cartoon gore. Responsiveness was the order of the day here. Having spent a good half an hour marvelling at how Kinect was still highly inaccurate, the Windows Phone 7 stunned me with its crossover potential and intuitive controls.
Imagine an iPhone crossed with XBLA and you're not far off. Twin Swords handled like a dream, the touch buttons to control attacks responding well, a touch circle to the left acting like a an analogue nub with haptic feedback. The graphics were XBLA quality, suffering no loss in framerate when furious double-tapping was occurring. Unlike Kinect, though, it was impressive to see just how quick and precise everything was when controlling the game. I decided, though, that it needed a sterner test and so turned to Rocket Riot.
The Awakening deal's worth a look. While it's still slightly cheaper to get a good deal on a physical copy, many gamers will appreciate the increased convenience of the downloadable version. Awakening adds a substantial new campaign, new characters and some seriously tough decisions that'll test your moral fibre to the limit.
Return to Ostagar allows your team to revisit the abandoned battlefield in order to bury the late king and get up to some serious looting. It's a short, sweet and arguably unnecessary little jaunt... but it offers a few gamerscore and a nifty set of armour for your trouble.
Warden's Keep is another brief sideline that promised to open up the titular stronghold as a base of operations. It lied. Whilst the new party chest finally allows you to store items for later, the Keep plays no further significant role in the campaign. 400 points still isn't great value for this swift little diversion.
In other Dragon Age DLC news, yet another content pack has arrived today. Golems of Amgarrak delivers a hardcore (read: very difficult) delve into the dwarven mines on the trail of a lost expedition. Is the difficulty spike making up for a lack of content? Go figure.
We recently brought you the news that Gran Turismo 5 would feature both a special edition and a massive ridiciculously obscenely decadent edition... and Sony have finally spilled the beans. This signature edition will net you a ridiculous amount of primo goodies- the likes of which I've never seen in a single CE.
The set also includes DLC codes for 11 new cars and entry into a prize draw to win a real Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG supercar. And the price for all of this luscious loot?
That'll sort out the fairweather fans from the Gran Turismo hardcore. Would you purchase this? Let us know in today's poll! [EU Playstation Blog]
The Wii's has given good service for nearly four years now- but without HD, many analysts and gamers have been wondering why Nintendo has remained silent about a successor. Their investors are clearly worried about the same thing, but at the latest financial meeting, Ninty President Satoru Iwata explained that they're keeping quiet to avoid Microsoft and Sony stealing their ideas.
"We are of course studying and developing the next console to Wii,"
"I am afraid to say that the history of entertainment is also the history of imitation. A great idea will promptly be copied unless protected through patents."
"At the same time, it is really important for our business to positively surprise people. Will you be surprised by our completed product if we told you how it is surprising three years in advance?"- Satoru Iwata
I'm with Satoru on this one. The Wii's accessible controls and casual image opened up a consumer base that they never thought possible... much to the envious surprise of Microsoft and Sony. Move and Kinect are going to try to muscle their way into the same audience (with the Playstation Move overtly mimicking the WiiMote's form factor)... though sorry guys, I'm pretty sure that Nintendo's completely saturated that market by now. Plus, I love Ninty surprises. Who doesn't? [Eurogamer]
What could Nintendo have in store for their next console? A hardcore gaming platform to appease their fans? A new input method- possibly involving biometry? Or just a Wii with an HD composite output on the back? Have your say in the comments!
Back in 2004, one Harold Milton Jr. filed a lawsuit against both Sony and Microsoft, claiming that Xbox Live and PSN had infringed copyright of his trademarked "Apparatus and method for electrically connecting remotely located videogames." Before you feel too sorry for the plaintiff, bear in mind that he was seeking an injunction to ban Xbox Live and PSN altogether!
After a protracted court battle, Sony capitulated last April (settling out of court), but Microsoft held their ground. A judge finally put an end to the case this morning, ruling that Xbox Live did not infringe Milton's patent. Apparently the term "electrically connecting" doesn't apply to Xbox Live... though I'd be interested to hear what the judge thinks is responsible for powering network and transmitting data. Pixie dust, maybe? Water? Concentrated pwnage?
Milton is now responsible for Microsoft's entire legal bill. I hope that he didn't spend all that tasty Sony bailout money just yet... [Eurogamer]
Well this one is pretty straightforward really, it does exactly what it says on the tin. Although, in the spirit of honesty you can attempt to secure email codes from a number of sites for somewhere around this price, peace of mind can be a wonderful thing...especially if that promised code never arrives in your inbox.
These days, you're generally looking at somewhere in the region of £32-37 to bag yourself a year's supply of online Xbox goodness, but just type in the code 'bill20' (all lowercase) at the checkout and you're looking at a tasty sub-£30 price.
Remember to use the code bill20 to get it at this price.
See you in cyberspace.
Thanks to HellRazer at HUKD for the tip-off.
Looking back on things, we all got our priorities completely screwed up when the New Xbox Experience arrived a year and a half ago. Pundits and publicity officers made a lot of noise about cosmetic details like the avatars and advert feeds, but most people glossed over the fact that the new Indie Games channel (known as Community Games back in the day) allowed literally anyone to download some powerful dev tools and release their own games from the comfort of their own bedroom. Whilst Microsoft hasn't quite ushered in a new golden age of homebrew and bedroom programming, there's still a huge amount of raw potential in the Indie service.
XBLA provides a fantastic games selection, but the Indie channel offers a huge number of great titles that simply don't garner the mainstream respect and profits that they deserve... but are mired in a sea of rushed and mediocre content. To this end, I'd like to shine the Dealspwn spotlight on a few games that you've probably never heard of, but will offer you big budget thrills for bargain basement prices. Let's do this!
Developer: Naturally Formed Studios
Demo/Buy (80 MSP)
Machiavelli the jellyfish is a simple soul. His only aim in life is to reach the surface- and it's your job to get him there by nudging him into air bubbles, starfish and boosters. It's a simplistic concept, but the gorgeous watercolour visuals and sound design create a hypnotic effect that'll make you lose hours of your life at a time.
Machiavelli’s Ascent is visually charming, aurally delightful and brims with character; delivering a minimal amount of beautifully-polished content at a bargain price. Just download the demo and try it out… if you find yourself wanting more then you might as well drop the 80 points (less than a quid). I certainly did.
Developer: Mommy's Best Games
Demo/Buy (80 MSP)
1UP. These three symbols mean nothing on their own, but when combined they send a shiver down the spine on every hardened gamer. Shoot 1UP takes the familiar concept of gaining an bonus ship with each extra life and takes it to the next level: literally bolting on an extra ship to your armada. Using the triggers expands and contracts your fighter formation- allowing your squadron to squeeze through narrow gaps or expand to charge up an insanely powerful laser.
Nathan Fouts, the brainchild behind Resistance: Fall of Man and Postal's weaponry, has wowed us yet again with a brutal shooter that combines traditional shmups with a deep new mechanic. Shoot 1UP may be short, but veteran gamers will return to it time and again. And once again, it's only 80 MSP.Click here to uncover more of the hidden Indie gems!
Lets face it, we all like treating ourselves to a Microsoft points card once in a while, whether it's to buy a few extra multiplayer maps, the latest game add-on, or a couple of extra songs on Rock Band. This latest points card deal from 7DayShop will save you £1.50 over the nearest competitors Amazon and GAME, who are both selling the Modern Warfare design 1200 points cards for £9.99. Considering that most 2100 MSP cards retail for around £17 these days, if you were to pick up two of these, you'd be grabbing yourself an extra 300 or so points free.
This is a great deal, and more importantly it gives you the perfect excuse to download the relatively new Stimulus package for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which is exactly 1200 points and is guaranteed to bring you endless hours of multiplayer mayhem!
Don't have Modern Warfare 2 yet? Check out Neil's review for an appraisal.
Thanks to millarcat at HUKD
Platforms: PSN | XBLA
Brendan's recent preview has whipped our office into a state of slack-jawed, slobbering anticipation for After Burner Climax... and it doesn't disappoint. AfterBurner's classic 15 minutes of gameplay has been given the full HD makeover, making it one of the finest-looking games on the service as well as a very slick port.
For those who don't know: AfterBurner is a rail shooter that resembles Panzer Dragoon or Rez... but twice as fast and three times as mental. A single stick controls both your plane and reticle, allowing you to dodge incoming fire as well as paint targets for your homing missiles. Deal out enough punishment on the huge enemy swarms and you can activate climax mode (which allows you to lock onto and dispatch dozens of fighters). The triggers slightly alter your velocity, but you'll spend most of your time careening through valleys, beautiful landscapes and tight tunnels at unbelieveable speed. It's a simple formula- but it's absolutely timeless.
Having said that, timeless is the operative word here. Whilst the quality on offer is pixel perfect, each playthrough only lasts around 15 minutes (assuming that you don't crash and burn). Don't get me wrong, you'll probably need a few tries to beat the ferocious final levels; after all, the game was originally designed to separate gamers from their hard-earned pocket change as fast as possible. This could've resulted in appallingly bad value (especially with the lack of multiplayer modes)... but SEGA has an ace in the hole. The EX Mode.
Click here to find out why ABC is still awesome and if Puzzle Chronicles can cut it....
Polyphony Digital must be getting pretty sick of developing GT5. It's slowly becoming the DNF of driving games (in any sense of the acronym) after years of development delays, and yet Kazunori Yamauchi claims that he'll be "angry" when it finally goes gold. In an interview with PSM3 magazine, Yamauchi blames his anger on his own high standards.
"I'd probably be relieved [to finish development] in terms of having fulfilled my responsibilities, but I may be angry at the same time. As it has been with all of the releases so far, I’m never fully satisfied with what I create.”
Unfortunately for Yamauchi's blood pressure, GT5 is over 90% complete and has been rumoured for an Autumn release. [CVG]
Infinity Ward's future may currently be in doubt, but let's take some time out from the bitter legal proceedings to congratulate them for creating the most successful entertainment launch of all time.
MW2 was released last November and received first day sales of £242.2 million- and Guinness World Records has identified it as grossing more than any game, movie, book or film in history on its first day (due, in part, to the high RRP compared to cinema tickets).
Well done, guys. Good luck getting your royalties, though.
According to an anonymous source, Microsoft has been discussing the possibility of launching an Xbox Live TV channel with former News Corporation President Peter Chernin. Apparently this new channel would be aimed at the "young male" market and would feature a variety of shows including reruns and original content. Sounds great- except that it would increase the price of Gold membership by a pound or two per month- and many wouldn't actually benefit from the service.
Microsoft is refusing to comment on the leaked story, but it seems legit considering their recent attempt to show the American Conan O'Brian show live on the service (also through Chernin).
"If this is a first offence, the CD key associated with the banned account will be suspended for 30 days, while repeat offenders will see their keys banned permanently. All account ban decisions are final."
Blizzard went on to praise the community for ratting out potential hackers- and suggests that all Battle.net users should remain vigilant and report suspicious activity.
Look to your left. Look to your right. Do you see a hacker? Call it in. [Gamesindustry.biz]
Ubisoft's DRM protocol that requires a constant internet connection to play AC2, Silent Hunter 5 and Settlers 7 has been causing gamers no end of aggravation (and created a massive public backlash), but it's unfortunately here to stay. According to a recent statement, Ubisoft have rebranded their nasty little program as an "Online Services Platform" and will be doing their best to ensure that it actually works.
"Most forthcoming Ubisoft PC titles will use our online services platform. As with any online technology, we are constantly working to evolve and improve it."
That's little comfort to the thousands of gamers that have been left unable to play their legally-purchased games. [Eurogamer]
In case you forgot, Microsoft will stop supporting Original Xbox games on Xbox Live this Thursday. That leaves us three clear days to enjoy the likes of Halo 2, Conker: Live and Reloaded and Star Wars Battlefront 2 before we have to make do with splitscreen and singleplayer.
If you're a Halo 2 fan, I'd suggest that you start planning your "sick day" right now...
The diehard superfans at Serebii.net have uncovered the first pics of the recently-announced Pokemon Black and White editions. Released in CoroCoro magazine, these images illustrate that Game Freak are sticking with their isometric graphical style but have upgraded to 2.5D. The battle system appears to be largely unchanged, but at least there are some sweet new sprites brighten things up. This incremental upgrade is unsurprising considering the franchise's determination to not fix what ain't broken, but I'm sure that many gamers will be demanding a slightly richer storyline and context this time around.
Actual details are still thin on the ground (as you might expect), but we can expect to learn more over the coming few weeks. We'll be keeping our eyes to the East! [CoroCoro via Serebii.net... via Joystiq]
Another week, another deal on Xbox LIVE and this week it's the turn of neon dual-stick shooter Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2. Gold subscribers can enjoy the game for half price over the next seven days as the price has dropped from 800 down to 400 MSP, meaning that you're picking up a slice of explosive epileptic action for around £3.
When I finally made the jump across to my 360 after attempting to milk the last drop of awesomeness from Final Fantasy XII, I found that my Xbox came bundled with the prequel to this game and to be honest I never looked back, and so when Geometry Wars 2 came out, I snapped it up immediately. This is an utterly fantastic game. It's beautiful to look at - as the screen fills with neon explosions it's like someone set of a bunch of fireworks in the middle of a red light district - and the gameplay is a triumph of streamlined simplicity: move around with the left stick, and fire in any direction with the right.
Deliciously addictive thanks to its arcade-style score chasing and online leaderboards, absurdly easy to pick up and play, and packaged with six different game modes that require slight shifts in the way you go about blasting glowing antagonistic shapes, four years on I still get a kick out of it. It could do with online multiplayer perhaps, but it'll give you an adrenaline rush as you dice with pixellated death that can definitely stand its ground alongside that of the far more detailed shooters of the past few years.
Quick reminder to any interested parties that the Xbox LIVE inventory sale finishes tomorrow on the 7th April. 10 top XBLA titles have been slashed in price for both Gold and Silver membership holders so get your skates on. Check out Jon's post from yesterday for a list of the games on offer and an opinion on how you should spent your hard-earned Microsoft Points.
Thanks to Cuddy at HUKD and Major Nelson
More Microsoft Points goodness for you! If you don't feel like shelling out for the 4200 MSP and are maybe just looking to add a few songs to your Rock Band playlist you might like to know that 7DayShop have had a stock delivery and are selling the 2100 MSP cards for just £14.99, saving you a quid or so on nearest competitor Zavvi, or giving you an extra 230 Points if you want to look at it that way.
This is an excellent price, and the more you buy, the better it looks. For those of you unable to get in on the Woolies deal I posted an hour ago, this is a great way of securing 4200 Points for £30. I bought three, just in case, and I highly recommend that you do something similar!
Thanks to bfjem at HUKD!
We've been covering the developing Portal ARG situation and our sequel suspicions have finally been confirmed. GameInformer has revealed that their April magazine will spill the beans on Valve's latest project, and Valve's own Doug Lombardi has told Eurogamer that Portal 2 will grace our hard drives this Halloween. The Pumpkin is a lie!
We've been hearing rumours about the addition of cooperative play in Portal 2, and Gamestop's leaked product description has finally confirmed it. We'll be seeing a dedicated cooperative campaign with two playable characters; which is very interesting considering that Valve managed to run co-op in the original Portal, but couldn't make it fun. We can't see how this will work unless one player controls portals and the other manipulates objects... an interesting prospect that may well pan out if our sources are solid. Watch this space. Or this space.
Whilst I'm quietly optimistic about the potential of Microsoft's impending motion capture peripheral, most gamers are still apprehensive about the shift in Microsoft's focus from software to hardware. The potential for shovelware and increased focus on Natal-enabled games is a genuine worry for Xbox 360 fans, but Microsoft's European head honcho is keen to allay our fears.
“Project Natal is meant to complement, not replace, the experiences on Xbox 360. We’ve reached new heights in creating a more natural and responsive gaming and entertainment experience for people of all interests and skill levels, whilst maintaining our commitment to deliver quality core games that consistently exceed expectations.”- Chris Lewis, European MS Boss
Personally, I'm not too worried about Natal distracting Microsoft's focus. Since they've delegated specific developers to creating the device, it's only distracted Peter Molyneux's focus. And if Natal keeps the increasingly deranged auteur off the streets for another year then it can only be a good thing. [MCV]
We've had our doubts about the iPad. We know what it is, though we don't yet know what it's for. However, we do know when it'll be arriving: next month.
Apple have announced that the standard and 3G versions of their new inexplicable gizmo will reach storm our beaches in late April (meaning that we'll be receiving the superior 3G version at the same time as the Americans). That means that it will be a lot faster to do... whatever it is the iPad does. [Gamesindustry.biz]
In an open letter to the Xbox Live community, Marc Whitten has announced that an update to the Xbox Live code of conduct now permits expression of race, religion, sexual orientation and nationality without being censored. Apparently, this update...
"will allow our members to more freely express their race, nationality, religion and sexual orientation in Gamertags and profiles. Under our previous policy, some of these expressions of self-identification were not allowed..."
Welcome to the 21st century, Xbox Live. Having said that, I've heard some nasty slurs online and it may be difficult to tell the genuine article apart from trolls and racists. Never mind, though: this is a step in the right direction. A step towards a genuinely tolerant online community that places sportsmanship and skill above anything else. It can't come soon enough.
Today's news roundup sees a bit of breaking news from across the pond as a youth is arrested for stating his intentions to carry out a school shooting over Xbox Live, it looks like Dante's Inferno's Greed Bug will be receiving a patch, and RTS rejoice as EA reclassifies the first three instalments of its hugely popular Command & Conquer series as freeware.
A Canadian youth has been arrested for stating his intent to carry out a horrific school shooting on Xbox Live. Whilst playing online, the unnamed Vancouver high school student discussed the specific individuals that he would be targeting as well as chilling details of his plans.
The other player, a Port Alberni resident, questioned the youth further about his threats but was quickly disconnected. Deeply concerned, he proceeded to inform the Royal Canadian Mounted Police of the conversation- which was followed by an intensive investigation and swift arrest. RCMP Staff Sgt. Lee Omilusik offers the following statement:
“This incident demonstrates the power of the electronic world and how different enforcement agencies can quickly work together to protect the citizens they serve, regardless of obstacles such as international barriers.”
"It is a reminder to the public to report any suspicious activities to police as their information may save a life"
At this early stage, it's difficult to know whether or not the disturbed young man was genuinely serious about going through with his threat. After all, the anonymity of online gaming provides a perfect forum for discontented individuals to vent and let off steam. We'll keep you updated as this story develops. What is clear, however, is that there's a definite line separating healthy smack talk and threatening behaviour, and that conscientious citizens are willing to speak out and keep our online services safe. [Vancouver Sun]
Dante's Inferno shipped with a hellish secret: a gamekilling glitch that forced many gamers to abandon their save files. Known on the forums as the 'Greed Bug', this nasty little error is triggered when gamers leave and return to an arena with a lever in the Greed level of hell. Doing so stops the lever from working, effectively grounding the player and ruining the save file if it was overwritten after leaving the room!
Luckily, help is at hand. The Dante Team angels have twittered that they are aware of the problem and working on a fix that'll soon be available.
"We apologize for the Greed bug and a patch is coming in soon.Spread the word that a patch is coming. -Go to Hell -Go to Hell 11:45 PM Feb 12th from CoTweet"
Well, we're spreading the word! Naturally, we'll let you know when the patch is released. [danteteam Twitter feed]
Hardcore Westwood fans will already be rejoicing at the news, but in case you missed it: EA has classified Tiberian Sun, Red Alert and Command & Conquer as freeware. These titles are free to download from their official site. These games were instrumental in defining the RTS genre and are generally considered to be some of the finest strategy games ever released.
There is a problem, though. These titles are not fully compatible with Windows Vista and Windows Seven, and numerous reports of failed installations and crashes have marred what should have been a joyous Valentine's Day present. I was gutted to discover that Red Alert refused to work as my original disk is scratched beyond recognition! Still, they're free- you could do a lot worse than downloading them and finding out for yourself.
Microsoft points are fickle, tricksy little things. Sometimes you'll be able to buy games for less half price with an amazing deal, but often the exchange rate is so high that you'll end up paying over the odds when you really need to pick up a new release or some DLC in a hurry. Savvy gamers tend to stock up on points when the getting is good- and currently, the getting is very, very good. 7DayShop are offering 2100 Microsoft points for £14.99, which is a full £15 cheaper than the normal price shown on their site.
It's sometimes possible to find cheaper prices on eBay or Playtrade; but you'll leave yourself wide open to fraudsters, scam artists and phishermen. I personally fell victim to one of these crooks the last time I didn't pick up my points from a reputable retailer- and my identity was only saved thanks to the vigilant watchdogs at Paypal.
With new Dragon Age and Assassin's Creed DLC available on Xbox Live Marketplace, Dead Rising on demand and a massive Borderlands expansion around the corner there's never been a better time to grab some Microsoft points at a knockdown price!
Thanks to kcphil at HotUKDeals!
Buying Xbox LIVE points is like preparing to go abroad really. Due to the fact that the points themselves don't translate particularly easily into 'real money', you end up hunting around for a favourable exchange rate just as you might do with dollars or euros or turnips. What this does mean quite often, though, is that if you find a helpful deal you can often snap up Marketplace games at a lower price than you would if you were buying direct online or via the PSN.
The prices for the 2100 cards are generally fixed around £16.99 (there are a few on eBay who email the codes out to you, but this can be pretty risky and often the price difference isn't worth it), but The Hut are offering their current sotck at a clearance price of £14.93, which is a good pound or so cheaper than the nearest competitor at Amazon Jersey.
However, you can knock another pound off of the price simply by signing up to The Hut's newsletter if you haven't already, meaning that you could lower the price to £13.93 and make a saving of £2.
Considering that you need Xbox LIVE points to do just about anything with Microsoft's temperamental tub of virtual toys this is a pretty sweet deal. It's also worth noting that if you're buying in bulk, it's still worth trying out the CLEAR4 voucher code that entitles you to £4 off when you spend over £40. It was supposed to expire yesterday, but I just successfully managed to use it as of 09:17 this morning. If it does work, then you could be looking at 6300 Points for £40, which is phenomenally good value!
A Quick Top 5 Things To Spend Your Points On:
If you spend any more than 80 points on pimping your avatar I may have to slap you.
Thanks to robappleby89 at HotUKDeals
The XBL schedules for this month have been released and there are a few corkers coming down in price in the next week or two, so if you have a few Microsoft Points floating around you might want to hang onto them for a few more days. Check out the list of upcoming deals below and see if anything grabs your eye, we've put in the previous prices and the saving you'll be making in brackets. There's also a link at the bottom for the XBL new releases for the rest of this month:
Week Commencing January 18th:
Week Commencing January 25th:
The Mass Effect deals are perfectly timed to coincide with the upcoming release of BioWare's sequel. Of the two, Bring Down the Sky is the better one, although it's basically just a slightly drawn-out side quest with a couple of shiny new cutscenes. To be honest, it's actually quite fun, but it certainly won't blow your mind. I picked it up when it was 400 MP and thought that it was an okayish price, but 240 MP is an excellent deal and if you hankering more a bit more classic Shepherd action before part two arrives, this is the one to go for.
Pinnacle Station is a disappointment, essentially a gladiatorial arena for a creaking combat model. No one played Mass Effect for the combat, so designing a load of DLC specifically centred around combat should have been shot down in the ideas department from the start. You could spend 240 MP on it, but I'm not even sure if it's worth that.
Battleship is the classic game we all know and love with a few extra game modes thrown in for good measure. It was never really going to be worth 800 MP, so now that it's dropped to a respectable, if not quite dazzlingly attractive, 400 MP it's certainly worth a punt for any fans. There are enough extras, unlockables, achievements and party options to keep things somewhat fresh too.
Portal is the big one, though, and anyone who has yet to sample this stunningly inventive game should really do so without delay. You don't need to buy The Orange Box for this one any more (although you probably should as Half Life 2 is amazing!), and Still Alive comes bundled with 14 all-new hardcore bonus levels for maximum head-scratching. It was just about worth it for 1200 MP, but at 800 MP it's definitely a must-own game.
Thanks to Cuddy at HUKD and MajorNelson
UPDATE: Remember that for the rest of the month EA are offering an 800 MP rebate for anyone who buys three of their selected XBL Marketplace products. Original a Christmas deal, the run has been extended to the end of the month. You can find the full list here.
Got a spare 800 pts lying around but worried that there's nothing around you really want to buy and afraid you'll end up frittering them away on Rock Band songs that you neither want nor need? Well hold on for just a little longer. A Microsoft press release for the Xbox Live Marketplace showing upcoming price changes in Xbox Live Arcade games and DLC has revealed that two of the best games available through XBLM - Shadow Complex and The Maw - are about to come crashing down in price from December 21st for Xbox LIVE Gold members.
Currently sitting proud at a steep 1200 MS points, Chair Entertainment and Epic Games' Shadow Complex is an award-winning 2.5D shooter that has been topping Best Of lists for months, but is now due to drop to 800 MSP, saving you a good third of the price if you wait just a few days. Developed by the same guys who brought us Gears of War and Splosion Man, it's a non-linear side scroller with game mechanics that would make Mario weep.
As you infiltrate the enemy base to rescue your girlfriend and save the world in the process, you'll find yourself increasingly capable of a whole bunch of badass moves. There's an enemy soldier in front of you do you disable him with the bone-crunchingly good melee system, riddle him with machine gun bullets, encase him in foam and blow him to pieces with a grenade, or cave his chest in by running into him at supersonic speed?
Shadow Complex is one of the best looking games I've played, arcade or otherwise, and the fully 3D background allows for a literal extra dimension. The non-linear structure and the massive array of powers you have at your disposal allow for a whole host of replays, and there are a load of timed challenges and integrated leaderboards to keep your button fingers warm over the winter period. Hell, at 1200 MSP you were still getting your money's worth. This is now an absolute steal!
The Maw, by contrast, is a sweet little game whereby you play a marooned little alien named Frank with a giant carnivorous blob at his disposal, trying to escape from bounty hunters, wild beasts and work his way home. Currently at 800 MSP, this little gem from indie developers Twisted Pixel will be falling by 50% to 400 MSP.
By all rights, The Maw shouldn't be nearly as much fun as it happens to be. The cutesy graphics are excellent, the gameplay is simple yet addictive and you never really tire of directing your maniacally grinning purple pet to gobble up armed mercenaries. It's a bit on the short side, but for 400 MSP it's well worth a punt.
Thanks to Cuddy and JayITFC at HotUKDeals
Today’s news roundup sees Activision look at the possibility of incorporating a DLC subscription service to future Hero games, U.S. Law firm Abington IP consider filing a class action lawsuit against Microsoft over the recent string of Xbox Live bans, and President Obama embraces Little Big Planet as part of his new learning intiative.
The “Hero” games are fast becoming an unstoppable force in the gaming industry, with Activision currently looking for more ways to squeeze a little bit more more money from the franchise. Red Octane co-founder Kai Huang commented on the possibility of a montly subscription service for the game’s downloadable content in a recent interview, announcing “That's definitely one of the things we would love to do. There are a lot of issues around music licensing. Customers want it; I know I want it. We're trying to make that happen.”
If such a thing were handled correctly the subscription service may prove beneficial to all, providing players with a constant update of Hero tracks, while Red Octane (and Activision) enjoys a steady revenue stream. Huang does share some concerns over the difficulties of getting the rights from musicians if such a thing is to take place, and no price has been estimated as of yet. But considering Activision’s involved, it likely won’t come cheap. [SeattleTimes]
Reports indicate the total of bans is as high as 1 million consoles, but according to Xbox Live general manager Marc Whitten “I cannot explain to you why people would think it was a million people. It wasn't a million people.” Whether or not the suit will go forward isn’t clear, but we’ll keep you updated if anything progresses. [FinancialPost]
President Obama is reportedly using Little Big Planet as a form of learning as part of his new plan to use digital media as a means of education. Teaming up with MacArthur foundation, HASTAC, and National Lab Day, Obama has formed the Digital Learning initiative. A $2 million dollar competition is featured, with the Game Changers category asking players to incorporate science, engineering, and math into their Little Big Planet level creations for a chance to win. Along with this Sony are donating 1,000 PS3s with Little Big Planet to low-income libraries and community organizations. The winning Little Big Planet levels will be available when the winners are announced this spring. [1UP]
Today’s news roundup sees Resident Evil 5: Alternative Edition arrive in spring in the form of DLC, EA axe over 1500 jobs in their latest restructuring plan, and Microsoft really crack down on videogame pirates as over 600,000 Xbox Live accounts are banned in the USA and Canada.
Rather than come in disc form as previously speculated, it appears Resident Evil 5: Alternative Edition will arrive as DLC. According to Capcom’s Chris Kramer, feedback from North America, Europe, and Australia contributed to their decision for a downloadable release. Kramer announces we should be “ready to roll” in spring 2010, assuming we hold on to our original RE5 disc.
He teases “new Resident Evil adventures” and a few surprises are in store for when the game arrives. As the Tokyo Game Show revealed, an Episode starring Jill Valentine will feature in the alternative edition, and include support for Sony’s upcoming motion controller, also due for release next spring. More info will likely be made available before the game sees release. [1UP]
Thanks to a “Cost Reduction Plan” designed in order to “provide greater focus on titles with higher margin opportunities,” EA are laying off an incredible 1,500 employees, roughly around 17% of their workforce. EA announced “This action will result in the closure of several facilities and a headcount reduction of approximately 1,500 positions, of which 1,300 are included in a restructuring plan.”
The plan should come into effect by March 2010, reportedly saving the publisher an annual saving of at least $100 million, while costing them between $130 and $150 million to implement. Although EA didn’t specifically announce which sections were cut, rumours suggest EA Tibron, Black Box, Redwood Shores and Mythic are among those affected. [Kotaku]
Microsoft have apparently been given a target of one million banned accounts by the end of Christmas, so expect a lot more angered teens, and hopefully a lot less videogame pirates by the time the holidays are over. [Pinoycosplay]