Gaming Steve

Xbox Archives - Page 3

February 18, 2008

Magic: The Gathering Coming to Xbox Live Arcade and PC ... But It's Not What You Think

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Today Wizards of the Coast announced that they have begun developing games for the Xbox Live Arcade and PC based on their Magic: The Gathering franchise. With their partnerships with Stainless Games and Mind Control Software, Wizards of the Coast have begun work on two games: one for the XBLA and PC, and another for PC and Mac.

"We’re excited to bring the Magic brand to new platforms and give our fans new ways to experience this great property,” said Jared Gustafson, Brand Director for Magic: The Gathering at Wizards of the Coast. “It’s partnerships like these that will advance the strategy games category and transform it to meet the needs and desires of today’s digital gamers."

On would think that they were created an online version of Magic: The Gathering for XBLA, but earlier today I was standing right next to Ilja Rotelli, the Director of Online Media for Wizards of the Coast, as this announcement was made and he personally informed me that these games were not an online version of Magic: The Gathering.

He explained to be that if you wanted to play Magic they already have the brand new Magic Online III coming out later this year. That is their online version of Magic and it's nearly complete.

Instead they are brining "the Magic: The Gathering brand to multiple platforms." Exactly what this means Ilja wouldn't tell me. But he said to expect to hear a lot more on Wednesday at GDC.

After all, Wizards is the Platinum Sponsor for this year's Independent Games Festival, you don't throw around that sort of cash unless you got something big to announce...

Posted by Gaming Steve at 10:30 PM | Comments (6) | Posted to PC | Xbox |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

February 11, 2008

Gaming Steve Review: Poker Smash

Poker Smash

Poker Smash
Developer: Void Star Creations
Publisher: Void Star Creations
Price: $10.00
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Puzzle
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Release Date: February 6, 2008

If you own an Xbox 360, love puzzle games, poker (or better yet both), then you owe it to yourself to try out the new Xbox Live Arcade game, Poker Smash. A deceptively simple and addicting game, you'll find it hard to put down after one try.

If you've played Planet Puzzle League, then you know the basics of Poker Smash – colored blocks scroll to the top of the screen and you need to eliminate them by matching groups. Groups can be matched horizontally or vertically, but you can only move the blocks sideways. Poker Smash adds in a few interesting twist, and obviously a poker theme.

Blocks are one of the 5 face cards in a standard playing card deck (that includes the 10) and one of the four suits. To score, you create "hands" like flushes, straights, and full houses. Other tweaks to the formula include an FPS like "slow-mo" ability and bombs to clear away unusable blocks. Challenges pop up every minute that ask you to quickly get four kings in a row or make a flush of clubs for a doubled or quadrupled score. Some fantastic presentation that includes having your score tracked with 3D poker chips and some slick, colorful graphics complete the package.

With multiplayer, timed, action, and puzzle modes, the game includes a everything you'd expect in an 800 Microsoft points Arcade game. I implore you to give the game a try and would be surprised if you aren't immediately hooked.

FINAL VERDICT: 9.0 BUY IT!

Posted by Clayton Ashley at 10:30 AM | Comments (5) | Posted to Review | Xbox |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

February 6, 2008

"Bring Down the Sky" With The First Mass Effect DLC March 10th

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BioWare has announced on their forums that the first piece of downloadable content for the virtual orgasmic rape simulator ... err, I mean the awesome interstellar action-RPG, Mass Effect, will be available March 10th for the low low price of 400 MS points ($5).

"Bringing Down the Sky" will include an entirely new planet to explore as well as the talked about but never seen Batarians. A rouge group of extremist Batarians have hijacked an asteroid space station and are attempting to fly it into the colony world Terra Nova, and only you and your group of roughnecks can plant the nuclear bomb in time to blow the asteroid and ... oh wait, I'm confused again.

The DLC is estimated to contain 90 minutes worth of intense action oriented role-playing. And for all you Achievement whores their will be an added 50 achievement points for your unlocking pleasure. This is also only the first it what is presumed to be many pieces of additional content for Mass Effect.

While I loved the game, I honestly haven't touched it after my second play through (one good, one bad) and unlike Knights of the Old Republic, I'm just no that drawn in to playing the game any more (I must have played Knights of the Old Republic 5 or 6 times). As long as it isn't just another barren Mako oriented world with one little outpost (and at 90 minutes long, it doesn't sound like it), I'll definitely pay $5 for 90 minutes of gameplay.

Posted by Clayton Ashley at 10:30 PM | Comments (6) | Posted to Xbox |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

February 4, 2008

Winners of the Free Culdcept Saga Contest

Culdcept Saga

So here I am with four brand new copies of Culdcept Saga just sitting on my deck (pictured), waiting for people to play them. It would be a shame for these games to go to waste so I guess I'll just have give them away to some loyal Gaming Steve listeners!

The rules couldn't have been easier – all you had to do was post your Gaming Steve forum name and sticking with the Culdcept Saga theme explain what "real world object" you would like to turn into a living creature to fight for you and why.

Many of the entires were quite humorous and innovative, make sure to check them all out and don't forget to listen to the podcast itself and my interview with the designers of Culdcept Saga.

Of course, you want to know who won. Nearly 100 people entered, but only four can win ... and the winners are (find out after the jump)....

BlueBottle and the "Statue of Yoda"
Nightdevil and the "N-gage"
CyberTrick and the "XBOX360"
GreyGeek and "Gummy bears"

Congratulations to the winners! Just send me your address and I'll send over the game ASAP.

And be on the lookout for new contests and new prizes on upcoming shows!

Posted by Gaming Steve at 2:00 PM | Comments (8) | Posted to Xbox |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

February 2, 2008

Saw Game Coming to Next Generation Consoles?

Saw

Brash Entertainment revealed at a recent press event that a Saw game is currently in the works and slated for a October 2009 release. The brief presentation showed a grainy trailer featuring the Jigsaw puppet, telling attending journalists that they were wasting their lives playing games and we should check out whoisjigsaw.com instead.

Brash is working closely with the creators of the Saw franchise – Leigh Whannell & James Wan – to bring the Saw experience to gamers. The game will be using Epic's Unreal Engine 3 – hinting most likely to a PS3 and XBox 360 release – and promises lots of blood and gore.

Personally I'm a huge fan of the Saw movies and have seen all four the day they came out, not to mention own them on DVD. While the movies themselves may be a little sick or twisted, they always have a great plot with an ending you don't expect. I think a solid game experience is quite possible although with constant controversy with Manhunt 2 it will be interesting how they will be able to pull off a "horror porn" game in this age of constant media scrutiny.

Oh yes. There will be blood.

Posted by Steven Mills at 2:00 PM | Comments (8) | Posted to PlayStation 3 | Xbox |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

February 1, 2008

Reminder: Last Chance to Enter Culdcept Saga Free Game Contest

Culdcept Saga

Just a quick reminder that we're giving our four free copies of the upcoming Culdcept Saga for the Xbox 360. Entering the contest couldn't be simpler, just wander on over to this post and leave a comment about what "real world" item you would like turn into a living, fighting creature.

Just post your Gaming Steve forum name, the object you want to turn into a creature and why and you're all set! Make sure to check back the site in a few days where I'll announce the four winners and you too can enjoy the Magic the Gathering meets Monopoly madness of Culdcept Saga!

Posted by Gaming Steve at 12:30 PM | Posted to Xbox |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

January 29, 2008

Console Friendly CryEngine 2 To Be Running on Xbox 360/PS3 at GDC

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The CryEngine2, known best as the software powering the ridiculously beautiful PC game Crysis, will be shown running on the Xbox 360 and PS3 at this year's Game Developers Conference. Developer Crytek did not confirm whether a tech demo, or specific game would be shown at the show.

Crytek will also be showing the engine running on a budget PC costing only $600 (cheap for a gaming PC) to prove the scalability of their engine. The presentation, name "Crysis in the Making", will also detail the making of both CryEngine2 and Crysis.

This is definitely a good move for Crytek, considering how much Crysis didn't sell last year. Consoles also make more sense for game publishers, seeing how they have a larger "core" audience and less piracy to deal with. I'd really like to play Crysis, and though my MacBook Pro can play some modern games well while in Windows (including Team Fortress 2 and Command and Conquer 3), I have a feeling I'd come no where near the experience the game is meant to have. Hopefully a console version will follow this development cycle.

Posted by Clayton Ashley at 10:30 PM | Comments (9) | Posted to PlayStation 3 | Xbox |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

January 28, 2008

Gaming Steve Review: Burnout Paradise

Burnout ParadiseBurnout Paradise
Developer: Criterion Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Price: $59.99
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Category: Racing
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Release Date: January 22, 2008 (US); January 25, 2008 (Europe); February 7, 2008 (Australia)

The latest addition to Criterion's long-running, turbo-charged, truly insane race 'em up series turns the franchise on its head via a surprising new free-roaming slant, with oddly conflicting results to show for it. While Burnout Paradise is often a fantastic, truly original title that supersedes its predecessors right across the board, it just as often proves a frustrating and flawed exercise in missed opportunities and even flat-out monotony. Allow me to explain.

On firing up the game for the first time, you'll find yourself almost instantly set loose upon Paradise City minus any sort of leash. There's all but two minutes of a tutorial to get you up to speed, and scarce little in the way of unlockable content for which to work towards, with Paradise instead throwing an entire god damn world at you in pretty much one go. The idea is, you blaze around this wide-open city, pull off stunts, track down collectibles, and partake in any of its endless list of challenges and events as and when you please. It's all up to you, fella.

This is all fantastic stuff at first too. Beholding the exquisite detail of Paradise City, and the luscious fluidity in which you careen around its plush, sensual innards awards it instant love that's hard to deny. For a while, you feel as if you're witnessing the very future of racing games in fact, not just graphically, but in terms of sheer design. All of the series' landmark traits — the ludicrous speed, the demented pile-ups and the jaw-dropping crashes — come through in-tact, but this time via a seamless, less constrained and undeniably next-gen universe in which to now savor them. Wow.

Burnout ParadiseUnfortunately, the actual content within this world often fails to live up to the premise. Over time, the challenges reveal themselves to be a repetitive, cut-back and under-realized bunch, giving the game a far more hollow feeling than perhaps one would've liked. Criterion boast the presence of a new such challenge at each and every crossroad in the entire game — with you merely holding down the two triggers to enter any at will — but in practice, the majority of its 120 odd events prove a little too similar for comfort.

You've got good old "Road Rage" challenges — the pick of the litter — that see you bashing enemies to death as you navigate the streets at immense speeds. Enjoyable "Stunt Runs", that enforce gravity defying jumps and crazy drifts within a set time limit. And of course the traditional Burnout races that you'd expect, in which you go toe to toe with seven AI combatants in a blitz for the finish line ala previous titles in the series. The difference being, Paradise has much improved new car handling, way better graphics, and some pleasing new depth to its boosting system. And hey, that's great.

What ain't are the actual "tracks". An unfortunate side effect of the free-roaming world in which they're set, sees these city-based routes never feeling setup, nor specifically designed for actual racing. Grid-like streets simply can't match the cornered-off, impeccably designed circuits of similar such driving games, and the added freedom of multiple routes can make such races notoriously confusing too. Given this game's extreme speeds, it's mildly annoying having to continually monitor your mini-map in order to gauge where to turn, with you regularly heading off down the wrong street and spontaneously having to backtrack at a split-second's notice. Expect many a lost race due to this. And grinded down teeth.

With only eight potential finishing lines peppered throughout the entirety of the city, races all end in a worryingly similar fashion too. You'll return to the same roads and same locations so darn often, déjà vu becomes a prominent gameplay feature. A new "Marked Man" twist on these races spruces them up occasionally, in which you'll have to zoom to the finishing line by your lonesome while kamikaze AI drivers ram you off the road to much amusement, but even these grow old in time. A pity.

Burnout ParadiseWhat started out fresh and invigorating then — heralding the pinnacle of its genre — grows slowly stale and bland as you progress. Scrapping the challenges, hitting the streets sandbox-style, and merely seeing what crazy off-road secrets you can uncover becomes a far more gripping way to spend your time as a result, and there's plenty of nooks and crannies tucked away within Paradise City to set your sights on with that in mind. This can't hide the fact that the single player game is a somewhat short-lived affair for the most part though, and five or six hours in, I was just about done with it. Particularly in light of the city's shockingly small size that lets you blitz from literally one side to the other in about 4 minutes flat.

Thankfully, all is not lost. Paradise boasts a superb online mode you see, one that goes a hell of a long way towards filling in the blanks. A mode, oddly enough, that reminds heavily of Crackdown of all things. In the same way that game was always at its best when played online — with you and a buddy merely tearing up the town and causing as much improvised mischief as you could — Burnout is no different. Just er, trapped in a car this time out. Ignoring the plot — or in this case, the races — engaging in your own demented multiplayer stunts is where this game truly shines, only it supports a whopping great 8 players by comparison, and is choc-full of superb mini-games for you to partake in along the way.

Paradise weaves such inventive tomfoolery into the actual game design, you see. One minute it may task your group with pulling off 100 jumps between you in quick succession, the next it may have you pile every single car onto one specific level of a particular building without falling off, and so on. The subsequent calamity and group-based bundles prove endlessly enjoyable and undeniably hysterical, with literally hours dropping off the clock at a time as you work your way through its laundry list of shenanigans. The average newcomer will often be left with a, "Guh? I don't get it" look on their face on first firing it up, and given the co-operative nature of these challenges, it can be annoying when just one of your eight won't play along. Once you get your head around how it all works though, simply fartin' around with your pals starts to make up the very core of Paradise's brilliance, and with a decent host making full use of the challenges, it proves truly amazing stuff. Not to mention utterly unique.

Burnout ParadiseSure, for more traditional online fun, there are more familiar multiplayer races on offer too. You can partake in 4-round mini-leagues should you so wish, at which point the game reverts to more of a Burnout Revenge-style versus game. All the "rivalry" features of its predecessor return thankfully, with new Vision Cam/PlayStation Eye support giving such violence a new — and often mature-rated — twist, and it's pleasant enough fun I'm pleased to say. The finicky niggles and mass confusion of the single player races turn into plus points when played alongside humans, with all players regularly zooming off in the wrong direction to much amusement and giggly group banter. With no one at a distinct disadvantage, races can turn drastically at a moment's notice, right up to the very home straight, making 'em far more enjoyable and exciting than against AI. Combined with the aforementioned co-op mini-games, this multiplayer suite affords the game much needed mileage most noticeably lacking from solo play.

Burnout Paradise is an intriguing experiment all in all then, that at often times works, yet just as often fails. In addition to the plethora of negatives outlined above, a series of smaller annoyances like the lack of an instant "retry" option, the removal of the ever enjoyable "Crash" mode, and the inability to turn off the god-forsaken "takedown" cam continually grate, all culminating in far from the nutso racing classic some might have been expecting. There's no denying though, that in its first few hours alone, it's one hell of a spectacular ride, and with a server full of pals, there's no multiplayer game quite so original...nor so god damn hilarious.

Providing you have friends, I'd say it's worth the pinch.

PLUSES: Traditional Burnout car-bashing antics prove just as fun as you'd hope, while flawless graphics with a seldom-faltering 60 FPS render 'em better than ever before. Amazing multiplayer modes provide plenty of longevity.

MINUSES: Single player challenges lack variety, while the city feels small after just an hour or two of exploring. No instant retry on the events can be frustrating, as can the reliance on a mini-map for one so fast-paced.

FINAL VERDICT: 7.5 BUY IT!

Posted by Matt Robinson at 12:15 AM | Comments (7) | Posted to PlayStation 3 | Review | Xbox |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

January 25, 2008

Grand Theft Auto Lawsuit Settlement: You Get $35, Lawyers Get "One Million Dollars"

One Million Dollars!

It's not often that People Magazine and video games have a lot in common, but in the February 4th issue (the one with Heath Ledger on the cover ... tragic) if you flip to page 50 there an interesting Legal Notice concerning one Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

Just in case you forgot in 2007 Rockstar Games proposed a settlement for a class action lawsuit concerning the infamous Hot Coffee modification. As a result any US citizen who was officially "offended and upset" by the ability to unlock this hidden content can now claim up to $35 in compensation.

The exact amount you may be entitled depends upon directly upon how much documentation you have of your "outrage":

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas First Edition Disc: Replacement Disc
Detailed Store Receipt: Cash payment up to $35.00
General Credit Card Statement or Check: Cash payment up to $17.50
Disc/Purchase Details: Cash payment up to $10.00
No Disc/Purchase Details: Cash payment up to $5.00

Full details on the program can be found at GTASettlement.com and you must submit your claim by May 16, 2008 to be eligible for compensation.

Curious about this lawsuit I actually went through the trouble to download the many long and detailed legal documents when I came across this little gem on page 11 of the Motion for Preliminary Approval document concerning the attorneys' fees:

E. Attorneys’ Fees, Costs and Disbursements. Finally, as mentioned above, only this past Friday, the Parties agreed on an amount to compensate Plaintiffs’ Counsel for attorneys’ fees and costs and disbursements in the amount of One Million Dollars ($1,000,000), the entire amount of which will be paid separate and apart from any amounts made available for payment to the Class and Class Representatives, as set forth above. This agreed upon amount includes approximately Forty-Five Thousands Dollars ($45,000) for costs and disbursements and approximately Nine Hundred Fifty Five Thousand Dollars ($955,000) for attorneys’ fees, a highly reasonable request and well within the range previously approved by this and other courts. A full and formal application for attorneys’ fees and costs and disbursements will be made prior to the proposed final fairness hearing for approval of this Settlement.

So to sum up, you can get a brand-new Hot Coffee-free version of GTA: SA and, at most, $35. While the lawyers who are representing you, me, and all the other "little people" damaged by this outrage on humanity are getting a mere "One Million Dollars ($1,000,000)".

Of course I couldn't help but think about the upcoming class action lawsuit against Microsoft concerning a few days of downtime for Xbox Live in late 2007. In that suit three angry Texans are asking for $5 million dollars from Microsoft ... but it's not really about the money.

As the plaintiffs' lawyer, Jason Gibson, explained to MTV News, "These are not guys looking to get rich". "They are college-educated. These are not young kids who just turned 18 and [want] to sue for the fun of it. This is, to them, a real issue." Gibson went on to explain, "They're not going to get a windfall or anything like that."

No, it seems that "windfall" would be reserved for the lawyers...

Posted by Gaming Steve at 11:00 PM | Comments (10) | Posted to Business | PlayStation 2 | Xbox |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

January 20, 2008

Scandal! Corporate Greed! The Truth Behind The Red Ring of Death?

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A source deep within Microsoft has given an interview to the website 8bitjoystick.com (who successfully predicted Bungie's departure from Microsoft) about the real story behind the Xbox 360's infamous Red Ring of Death. Reportedly understaffed departments, the need to beat Sony to market, and corporate arrogance led to the Xbox 360's abnormally high failure rate.

The insider reported that the test, quality, manufacturing, and supplier management departments were all understaffed and unable to cope with the problems at hand. He then went on to describe how in their determination to beat Sony to market, Microsoft wasn't willing to stop production and get the problem fixed, rather just continue shipping will also trying to fix the problem. He pointed out that Microsoft saw it as a numbers game, that even the first million or so being defective was worth getting ahead of Sony in the market.

The interview also details a few other interesting aspects of the problem. For instance, the insider states that the failure rate for the Xenon (the first Xbox 360s) was at least 30%. He also details how the repair process works, and that it's very unlikely you will get either a new Xbox 360 or your own repaired. In fact, it's very possible to get your new more "reliable" Xbox 360 exchanged for a repaired Xenon.

I may not be an expert in console hardware, but this is what I'd do if I where Microsoft: release a "new and improved" redesigned Xbox 360, just like Sony did the the PS2 Slimline. A slightly different shape and/or color, quieter DVD drive, and compatibility with the current hard drives ... oh yeah, and no Red Ring of Death. This would help to erase the current perception of the Xbox 360 as a highly fallible console, because this is really going to hurt them in the long term.

Of course Microsoft sort of did this already with their more expensive Xbox 360 Elite, which is supposed to have fixed the Red Ring of Death. So you can either buy an Xbox 360 and wait until dies on you, or you can purchase the more expensive Elite version which works like it's supposed to ... I think it might be time for a lemon law for gaming consoles.

Posted by Clayton Ashley at 1:00 AM | Comments (5) | Posted to Business | Xbox |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!