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Posts with tag Microsoft

Microsoft makes bet: Sony will unveil $399 PS3 this year


It wasn't too long ago when a Microsoft executive was trash-talking Sony. Nay, going so far as to make a bet against their rival gaming manufacturer. Case in point: J. Allard made predicted that Sony's PSP would downright flop. He was wrong, and to honor a bet with Newsweek's N'Gai Croal, he donned dreads and updated his Microsoft company profile page, admitting "N'Gai had it right," and that the PSP was not a failure.

Looks like Microsoft is up to the same antics again. This time, Xbox director of technical strategy and attack blogger Andre "Ozymandias" Vrignaud, is the one to take a bet with N'Gai. He states that "My prediction is that you're going to see the creation of a new, low-end SKU this holiday. It'll likely remove integrated WiFi, memory card reader, and most controversially, all backward compatibility. (Remember, there's still some back-compat hardware in even the new "software only" back compat SKUs; removing the remaining CPU is a significant cost savings.) You'll see a new WiFi dongle made available. And finally, this low-end SKU will likely come with a smaller 40 GB hard drive. The low-end price will be set at $399, with the higher-end 80 GB SKU dropping to $499."

An interesting concept, to say the least. Ozymandias expects it to arrive by Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year in the US. N'Gai accepted Microsoft's bet ... only this time, the loser will have to buy a steak dinner instead of alter their hair styles (which will simply not be as fun to write about).

[Thanks, Copa!]

If you like parkour, you'll like Mirror's Edge

For those not in the know, parkour is essentially the running around a city and using buildings as stepping stones. The art of movement? Freerunning? Hmm, it's a bit complicated to sum up, so perhaps a video of it would explain it better. Or a fantastic movie. Regardless of our inability to describe the street acrobatics of parkour, know that it's awesome and DICE's upcoming FPS, Mirror's Edge, wants to capture the feeling of the human body doing such stunts. It's essentially moving Prince of Persia into first-person and we can dig that.

The game wants to pay attention to the body like no other FPS, taking note of acceleration and deceleration, head movements whilst running, and motion while you climb or jump. To pull off the parkour-inspired moves, you've got to set in a sequence of button-presses, utilizing some sort of "reaction time" slow motion feature. The game, you can infer, isn't about shooting people so much as it is about knowing your way around the huge levels and being able to pull off these escape stunts. Gunning someone down is the ultimate goal, but in multiplayer at least, chase sequences are going to be the fun part. We're excited to see how this one turns out!

The Last Remnant: swords, kidnappers, and wars, oh my!


In addition to the nifty trailer we've embedded for you, we've got some more information regarding the Square Enix title Romancing SaGa Tactics The Last Remnant. No, we're not going to blab about the characters or basic plot (other than the kidnapping of your younger sister Irena). What we've learned is that there is only one main playable character, Rush Sykes, not two as previously rumored.

Even so, expect large-scale battles with numerous personalities instead of faceless infantry. If you played any of the old Ogre Battle games (which had subtitles named after many Queen songs -- March of the Black Queen, for example), imagine that. What we mean is a "main" character surrounded by some faceless infantry. With that, you'll imagine a fairly turn-based battle system with some more cinematic "realistic" experiences, such as the morale bar and some actions to take in the middle of something else (during a fight sequence, you may get some button cues to unleash a flurry of extra moves, increasing said morale bar). That's all we're going to say for now. Enjoy the trailer and we'll keep you up to date!

Fracture details explode forth from the ground

LucasArts is making a game called Fracture. We've covered it once or twice before. We're really excited about it. Taking that into consideration, when we read a new preview of the title, our excitement grew even more because the terrain deformation mechanic is starting to make more sense to us. We'll explain how it works without going into all the back story -- read that if you want. What we will tell you is the visuals look sharper and resolutions higher than 720p are being considered.

You can carry two weapons at a time, along with four types of grenades. Each weapon has a primary (shooting) feature and a secondary. The secondary features primarily (get it?) deal with terrain deformation -- the machine gun will chip away at the ground, making a staircase on a steep cliff. The shotgun bullets bounce off walls and the rocket launcher creates a subterranean torpedo. Another weapon serves as a type of vacuum, sucking up dirt and debris into a gigantic ball, then rolling it into enemies for an eventual explosion. The grenades serve different purposes as well, mostly for terrain deformation. They're really cool sounding, but that's for you to read up on. Look for the game in early 2008 as well as more coverage over E3!

We're glad to announce that Turok is back and he's awesome

It's nice to see Turok come back from the horrible spiral it started to take after the first games. IGN got to test ride the dino-hunter title recently and their verdict is what we wanted to hear: "beyond sweet." Let's explain. The jungle you're stuck in on some foreign world is alive with options. Two soldiers approach your hiding place. Shoot them? They'll sound the alarm and waves of enemies will come, not to mention dinosaurs who grow hungry and like loud noises. Bow and arrow them? Yeah, but that's boring. Sneak around and knife 'em? Nah! How about you stick a silencer on your gun, aim carefully and shoot the nearby dinosaur egg nest, and watch the mother run out and feast on the intruders walking by? Now that sounds fun!

Much like plenty of other FPS titles out there, every weapon comes with a secondary fire option and each of these can be used appropriately in a multitude of situations. We hope Tek Arrows come back. Those were nifty. In addition to secondary fire on your weaponry, you'll have context-sensitive commands if you want to, er, "stealth kill" a dino, or if a dino is trying to eat your face. Sounds good, but might be a bit time consuming in those 16-player online matches complete with dinosaurs to kill everyone.

We're cautiously optimistic. The game sounds glorious, looks fantastic and from the hands-on, we get the idea the game has a lot going for it. What could ruin it? Not poor A.I., as it's being touted as something to be reckoned with. Length of the game? Nope, the online mode sounds unique and fun, too. We're not sure, but we think that this new Turok game will indeed bring the series to a new beginning and it will rock.

Alone in the Dark: the definitive horror experience

You know that feeling you get when your gut just tells you something is going to be good? It's usually wrong in the end, but until you know for sure it's just a great means to power the hype train? We've got that feeling about Alone in the Dark. Because they scrapped using a subtitle or a numerical indicator, it tells us they've re-imagined the franchise and will take the game down a new, hopefully scary, path. An interview with producer Noir Polloni explains more, after the jump.

Continue reading Alone in the Dark: the definitive horror experience

Digital Illusions reveal Mirror's Edge, a console-only shooter

Shooters! They're everywhere, like a hail of bullets aimed straight for your wallet. Most of them suffer from the "well, we're best on PC" virus, so getting word of a new shooter that has its crosshairs exclusively locked onto consoles is always fantastic news. Developers of the Battlefield titles, Digital Illusions, revealed a console-only (PS3 and 360) FPS titled Mirror's Edge that is supposedly going to shake up the genre.

Supposedly, it's going to have a cyberpunk design to it. In anime terms, think Lain except replace all philosophical and existential mumbo jumbo with explosions. If that doesn't do it for you, then maybe the anime Texhnolyze would be a better comparison. There aren't many cyberpunk movies out there besides the Matrix. So, from Digital Illusions, we'll have Battlefield: Bad Company and the futuristic Mirror's Edge to choose from. Pick your poison, or bullet.

Only a small fraction of console gamers use video playback

Read the title again, then think about Blu-ray. The small fraction of people taking advantage of a console's video playback function? We're almost certain most of that market is centered on the PS3 crowd. We're driving the Blu-ray format home. The Diffusion Group, however, isn't looking at the PS3 alone, but the three next-gen consoles together. How much do people use video playback on those? Apparently, "80 percent of console owners have the option, only 30 percent realized it was part of its feature set, and only 13 percent actually utilize it." Chances are we are the bulk of that 13 percent.

We know that many parents who may buy game systems for their children are largely uneducated to the video game industry and all the functions available not only to their kids, but to themselves as well. Thus why people still have parts of their homes dubbed "dens" or "game rooms". The PS3 deserves front-and-center attention to a family's media center and these results reflect that many are not even aware of the awesomeness of Blu-ray movies. Or nobody watches DVDs on the 360 or the Wii ... well, the 360. Wii owners don't exactly have a choice.

Microsoft wants some of that money that Sony gave Immersion

In one of the weirder twists in the Sony/Immersion saga, Microsoft has sued Immersion, claiming breach of contract over their settlement with Sony. According to the lawsuit, Microsoft is owed a certain amount of the money that Sony paid Immersion earlier this year to settle the long running force-feedback lawsuit. And not a small amount of money either, as explained by Immersion in their rebuttal to Microsoft's claims:

"Immersion is obligated to pay Microsoft a minimum of $15.0 million for any amounts received from Sony up to $100.0 million, plus 25% of any amounts over $100.0 million up to $150.0 million, and 17.5% of any amounts over $150.0 million."

In addition, Microsoft also wants Immersion to pay a variety of other fees including damages and attorney fees. Immersion feels rather strongly that they shouldn't have to pay though and say they are willing to fight it, so it looks like they're going back to court. And considering it took them four years to finish the lawsuit with Sony, it doesn't bode well that this will be a quick trial. What's next? Nintendo sues Microsoft for suing Immersion over suing Sony?

Paid subscription a possibility for the future of PlayStation Network


Paying for a subscription would certainly seem to be a possibility, especially as the long-rumored feature upgrades come filing into the PlayStation Network. When speaking with Geoff Keighley on the latest edition of Gametrailers' Bonus Round, Eric Lempel spoke about the PlayStation Network's current free service and that, "in time, anything can change." Comparing the PlayStation Network to Microsoft's Xbox Live service, Lempel, Sony's director of Network Operations reconfirmed "we're working on an achievements system," describing its inclusion as "an important feature." Voice-chat across all games is also something (thankfully) that Mr. Lempel touched base on, saying "talking across games ... definitely builds momentum for games and actually migrate(s) users to other games and keeps you in touch with your gaming community." We couldn't agree more.

Exactly when these implementations will make it to a PS3 near you, via firmware upgrade, is uncertain. "It's not in the next firmware update but it's something we're working on," says Mr. Lempel. We certainly hope so, though we are catching wind of the potential trade-off here. What do you think? Would you pay a subscription fee (similar to Xbox Live) for a plan that allows cross-game invites, built-in voice chat for all multiplayer games and a similar achievement points implementation? Or would you rather say the heck with all that, and voice to keep the PlayStation Network free for all, setting it apart from Microsoft's Xbox Live service?

[Via Next-Gen]

Everything you want to know about TimeShift

If you're unfamiliar with TimeShift's development life, you should know it was originally slated as an Xbox and PC title. Original, fatty black n' green Xbox, we mean. It got stuck in development hell for reasons only the developers truly knew, but we now realize what was wrong. Saber Interactive was waiting. Waiting for the next-gen consoles, because what they wanted to do wasn't possible on old hardware. Forget about the full visual makeover it received, we're going to tell you some more detailed information about the game itself.

The old story, recorded dialogue with Dennis Quaid and Michael Ironside included, has been scrapped. Gone is the tragic war veteran who lost his daughter and replacing him is you, the player. Taking on a classic RPG style of unnamed protagonist, you're just a player in the war game, so to speak. If you were a silent protagonist, that'd be awesome, but unlikely. Regardless, you travel to an alternate timeline and take on an army of warriors protecting the man who changed the flow of time to make himself leader of all things gritty, dark, and somber.

A new time-control scheme lies in your suit, dubbed S.S.A.M. and given a female persona. One button controls the ability to stop, slow, or rewind time, depending on which would be most beneficial in a given situation. Using these in the levels would be nice, but the first four completed levels were completely scrapped, replaced by gigantic new ones, each with a specific purpose to advance the story. There's plenty more to discuss, like the enhanced AI, puzzle-solving opportunities and other gameplay gimmicks, but we'll stop here and let you check the rest out on your own. Shooters have to try harder to differentiate themselves from one another and this game is trying harder than most.

Is Dark Sector something to keep our eyes on?

When you first read any hands-on material, you generally groan in disappointment because all you hear is fluffy statements about this or that. People who are given hands-on time typically won't say anything negative about a game, as that would be rude. However, sometimes you can pick out choice phrases or words that connote whether or not a game, to put it bluntly, blows. So when Games Radar posted their hands-on, we were surprised to see none of that in their hands-on of Dark Sector, recently rescheduled for next year due to a busy Fall lineup (but Summer is still completely empty).

The game is a melting pot of ideas. If we were to blurt out the influences, we'd probably scream a list similar to this: Rygar, Resident Evil 4, Gears of War, Zelda, and Metroid. You've got your spinning disc thingy that cuts people up, your third person shooting style from RE4 and the cover system from GoW and you learn new skills and solve puzzles with said skills/items like in Zelda and Metroid.

What Games Radar said about the game graphically is pleasing -- it used to be fairly ugly, but they've complimented how it has turned out. Sure, it doesn't look the killer app for the PS3 and 360, but if your level of fun slows down after the holidays, this might just give you the shot of excitement you need.

Dark Sector slices calendar up, forgets about 2007 release

Thank goodness! You may be wondering why we've got our arms raised high in elation as we praise the heavens at the news of the anticipated Dark Sector getting pushed back to early 2008. It isn't that the game has hit a roadblock during production. It isn't that they don't feel the game is ready for people to play. The real reason is fairly obvious: every game known to man is trying to get pushed out the door during the holiday season of 2007. Dark Sector doesn't want to be yet another hit in your wallet or something that simply gets forgotten about. D3 wants their title to get noticed and so do we. Thanks for taking one for the consumer team, Dark Sector, and we'll see you in 2008.

Screen Digest objectively talks about next-gen console standings

This is another incredibly interesting read thanks to avid gamers over at the PS3Forums, specifically Doc Evils. Screen Digest has opened up their hearts and minds to the state of the gaming industry and released some fairly entertaining and truthful observations about all of the next-gen consoles. This is in no way meant to fan any flames -- it's meant to show all of us how our beloved consoles are stacking up around the world. Are you curious to read on?

  • "For Xbox 360, European hardware sales seem to have hit a wall." Screen Digest says Microsoft's console focuses too narrowly on the young male demographic, inundating the market with shooters and other testosterone-ridden titles. The lack of diversity in genre is crippling its sales worldwide, questioning the validity of the console on a worldwide basis. SD says "without year on year sales improving across the rest of the region, the platform could be in jeopardy on a global basis." Of course, most people's anticipated titles for this year are 360 games, so don't worry Xbox loyalists, your system should be fine.
  • "The Wii's target market could be saturated more quickly than its competitors as the technology looks increasingly tired by comparison." Caught on the collar of many other analysts and hardcore gamers, Screen Digest feels the Wii will reach as many consumers as it possibly can in a short time, then putter away just as rapidly. With a historical 3rd party abandonment policy, it's up to Nintendo's 1st party devs to keep the system alive. Japanese publishers have even said they don't plan to try very hard on Wii games, planning only to make whatever profit is possible with mediocre ports.
  • Regarding the PS3, "the education of consumers as to what is in the box and what its benefits are has not been forthcoming from Sony." Basically, Sony's marketing has really taken a toll on what could've been showcased as the greatest piece of home entertainment ever created (we say this while we stream Arrested Development from our computer to our PS3 and onto our PSP while visiting a friend's house). Aside from that, European developers feel the PS3 will win out due to the strong brand image in the PAL territories. Also, a lineup unparalleled this Fall should bolster sales. SD goes so far to say that Sony "could reveal some unrivaled games which are exclusive to PS3, not least because competing platforms would be technically incapable of offering them."

Wow! Regardless of where you stand in the console "war" you've got to take all this information in as objectively as possible. It is true about the PS3's marketing -- it's been a joke. Nobody knows what makes it so unique. It is true about the Wii -- most third party companies aren't going to try very hard to make standout titles. It's also true about the 360 -- outside of America, it's suffering. It's choking on a narrow genre that can only get so many fans. What do you guys think of the state of the consoles? Let's be nice about it. Will there be any dynamic shifts by the end of this year?

[via PS3Forums]

Demo for The Darkness postponed, perhaps after release

If you're a subscriber to The Darkness' bulletin via MySpace or whatever, you may have been alerted to some news that's quite the disappointment. Initially, there was planned a demo prior to release, however, that seems to have changed. The developers issued this statement, in character: "The wicked embodiment of Light and Order, the Angelus, must be corrupting the Darkness somehow because the demo is not ready."

Yes, that's exactly why the demo isn't ready. In any case, they promised that "there will be a demo. I cannot guarantee that it will come before the game releases." We keep complaining about the lack of demos and this doesn't help. We know we'll get one, but getting it after the game is released almost defeats the purpose. Regardless, we'll be happy when it arrives because we simply can't fall on either side of the fence for this game.

[Thanks a lot, Ben!]

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