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Microsoft Consoles Articles

Warhammer 40K: Space Marine Xbox 360 Review
Relic takes a break from RTS to bring us Space Marine, and shows us what it means to be one of the God-Emperor's Finest.

Mirror's Edge Review
An exclusive in-depth look at DICE's much anticipated first-person parkour action game.

Turtle Beach Ear Force X2 Review
The headphone market is a hot one for gamers these days, the latest hardware can often offer incredible abilities but at the same time conflict with existing hardware.

XBOX Do It Yourself Guide
The Microsoft XBOX console for many new owners happens to be a reliable system that can go for quite an abusive period. For owners of launch systems and first year systems though this console has proven to be quite troublesome to be the least with the dreaded Thompson Drive. Since this is one of the most common complaints I'm going to run through cleaning proceedure and teardown to remove the old laser assembly and install a new one. Before we go into that I'm required to state the following.

Microsoft Consoles News

NPD: Titanfall leads game sales in March, proving you can drop a Titan on anything

1 comments Lydia Sung - 5:15pm (PST) Like (1) Share

Xbox One and PC shooter reigns supreme in software

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Titanfall seems to be living up to its hype, as the Xbox One shooter topped software sales in March. So says the NPD Group, who released a report today listing last month's top ten sellers in the United States.

Although released for PC and Xbox 360, Titanfall was heralded as the must-have game for Xbox One. And while someone can claim that Titanfall's apparent success shuold come as no surprise, keep in mind the PlayStation 4 is still dominating hardware sales, and the PS4 exclusive inFamous: Second Son performed admirably in the software department.

Currently, the NPD is only factoring in Titanfall numbers from Xbox One and PC, since the Xbox 360 version was released later, in April. Though no concrete sales numbers have been released yet, you can bet it's an impressive figure.

Respawn isn't just going to sit around and bask in their success, however. Next month will see the release of Titanfall: Expedition, the shooter's first DLC map pack, and plenty more changes will be coming in the next several months.


Ultra Street Fighter IV's adrenaline fueling opening cinematic, Elena, Rolento, Hugo and Poison star

1 comments Rory Young - 11:25am (PST) Like (1) Share

Decapre's not far behind

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Ultra Street Fighter IV may be a ways away from its expected June release date in North America, but Japan should be getting the game any day now. With the launch of the the next iteration of the popular fighting franchise, there's one thing everyone can count on -- an epic, techno, adrenaline-fueling, montage opening cinematic! Have you not had a cup of coffee in a few hours? Why not watch this video then, because it will perk everyone right up.

Featured prominently in the video, as expected, are the latest additions to the Street Fighter IV roster. I'm talking about Elena, Rolento, Hugo and Poison of course. Each of them has their own 5-10 second clip in the middle of the video with their own pre-rendered cinematic that stands out from the shadowy conceptual style the rest of the characters are shown in. Where's the last revealed character, Decapre? Well, as shown in the header image she's not outright featured in the video, but she is teased.

I know that these sorts of opening cinematics aren't necessarily of the highest quality. Hell, any single match in Street Fighter IV looks better than the action in the cinematic. Still, Capcom has got these openings down to an art. The mixture of techno that speeds up as the video goes on, the jump cuts between characters and the dozens of references to rivalries and bits of lore mixed in come together in a way other genres have to pine about. It's the perfect welcoming mat for players starting up the game. It makes me want to play Street Fighter right now.

Too bad it;s not available just yet. Pick up the Ultra Street Fighter IV update DLC starting in June or wait for the standalone version's launch in August. It should be ready just in time for North America's biggest fighting game tournament, EVO.


Producer Drew McCoy finds success in Titanfall being enjoyed, apathetic about sales

0 comments Philip Moody - 10:08am (PST) Like (1) Share

Someone who's not all about making big bucks for a change

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Titanfall producer Drew McCoy is a breath of fresh air in an industry that's slowly becoming more focused on the money than entertainment. He hasn't looked at the sales figures to know if the recently released shooter is making a profit, nor does he really care.

Some might have worried that EA might try to have encouraged microtransactions to be implemented into Titanfall. That didn't happen, much to everyone's relief. The developers even looked the other way if regarding players who managed to acquire Titanfall prior to launch, maybe because they were trying to sneak in as well.

McCoy's interview with GameSpot at PAX East sheds some light on this behavior from Respawn Entertainment:

"I don't know if it's making a profit, I don't know if it's meeting sales expectations. I don't really care... I care that I worked on a game that I can sit down and enjoy playing. The fact that people enjoy it and it has made enough that we [get to] continue supporting it as a studio, that's to me a success. We make games because we love them and we want other people to play them with us."

It's refreshing to see Respawn Entertainment is remaining focused on game development and not letting Titanfall's success get to their heads. Let's hope they don't get blinded in the future.


Batman: Arkham Knight screenshots get up close with Oracle and rogues, including creepy Riddler

5 comments Lydia Sung - 6:17pm (PST) Like Share

Gotham City is especially shiny at night

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Due out later this year, a new Arkham shall rise. Batman: Arkham Knight will grace the new generation soon enough, but for now, let's admire these new screenshots from Rocksteady and Warner Bros. They're unreasonably shiny and feature a number of familiar faces, friendly and not so.

We know already Penguin, Two-Face and Harley will be appearing in this Arkham sequel, after their appearances in the announcement cinematic. The Batmobile is also a big deal this time around, what with being an actual part of the game, so Rocksteady is clearly putting a lot of work into its design. It was showcased previously in a series of images, alongside the Arkham Knight villain, an original character created just for the Arkham Knight game. He doesn't make an appearance this time, but you can see some concept art in the gallery below featuring the Batmobile.

Riddler might be the big surprise here, because he looks a lot creepier than I recall. Not that he's got a ton of makeup or scarring. It's just the look on his face...

Batman: Arkham Knight will be out for PC, Xbox One, and PS4 later this year. Rumor is the game will be out in October, but Warner Bros. has yet to confirm such.

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Halo and Destiny composer Martin O'Donnell fired "without cause" by Bungie

13 comments Lydia Sung - 1:58pm (PST) Like Share

Bungie releases official statement after O'Donnell

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Late last night, American composer Martin O'Donnell announced he had been fired from Bungie "without cause," marking the end of a relationship that lasted more than a decade. Today, Bungie officially acknowledged O'Donnell's departure and released a statement on the matter.

Best known to gamers for his work on the Halo series, Martin O'Donnell (also known as Marty O'Donnell) was also named the composer for Bungie's upcoming shooter Destiny. Taking that into consideration, his sudden departure from the studio comes as an even bigger shock. Hours ago, he tweeted:

That brief message sparked mostly confusion, and Bungie certainly hasn't done much to dispel it. Not too long after O'Donnell made the abrupt announcement of his termination, the Destiny developer made the following post on their official site, by way of Bungie's DeeJ:

There are those who said this day would never come...

For more than a decade, Marty O’Donnell filled our worlds with unforgettable sounds and soundtracks, and left an indelible mark on our fans. Today, as friends, we say goodbye. We know that wherever his journey takes him, he will always have a bright and hopeful future.

We wish him luck in all his future endeavors.

In situations like these, all parties are usually bound by NDA, ensuring the details are kept under wraps. One might argue that no company ever acts "without cause," but the contrast in Marty's and Bungie's announcements definitely raises a few brows.

Of course, now we can all dream that he'll go back to the Halo series.


Arc System Works, BlazBlue and Guilty Gear devs, teasing BloodRayne revitalization

8 comments Rory Young - 10:38am (PST) Like (1) Share

This is the current state of video games

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A teaser site from Guilty Gear and BlazBlue developer Arc System has appeared that should cause much more of a stir that readily meets the eye. A stereotypical anime chick colored in red and black fills the page, overlaid with a bit of writing and a title and date. "BRCS", which also happens to be the page URL, is quite clearly a teaser at the game's title. 4/23/2014 implies the date of announcement. Just 7 days left.

As for the passage of text, well, it's a close quotation of Friedric Nietzsche without context, but we can probably assume it's mean to convey some sort of gothic mood. Evil! The Abyss! How ominous:

"She who fights with monsters might take care lest she thereby become a monster. And if you gaze into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you."

The ridiculousness of it all starts to come together with the realization of what franchise BRCS is associated with: BloodRayne. Dear video games, it's true. BloodRayne is back. Not only does generic anime chick resemble BloodRayne, as well as the red and black gothic look channel that game's attitude, but the symbol on the chick's necklace is none other than BloodRayne's.

Let's not take the low road and talk about how unfortunate it is that BloodRayne, of all franchises, is getting brought back to life. Let's instead focus on how Arc System Works, developer of Japanese fighting games like Guilty Gear and BlazBlue, is now developing a BloodRayne game. What is even going on. We'll find out what BRCS really is in a week.


Trials Fusion out now, same old Trials only now on future technology PS4 and XONE

0 comments Rory Young - 9:55am (PST) Like Share

The wheel on the bike go... wait, where have the wheels gone?

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Do you boys like motorcycles? Well too bad, because motorcycles are dangerous and only old, grizzled self-destructive divorcees should drive them! Instead, why not try out Trials Fusion, which has just been released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Xbox 360. The 2D racing title that's actually more of a puzzle game than anything else is the fifth game in the series, now making the jump to next-gen consoles.

As such, the main upgrade players will recognize in the game is purely visual. Lighting changes, shadow additions and an overall increase in model and animation quality are the main areas of improvement. Otherwise, this is the same Trials game that players of Trials Evolution or Trials HD will be familiar with. In fact, you have to wonder just how many types of "puzzles" RedLynx still has in their bag for a new Trials game. Hopefully they get creative.

Still, there's something about Trials' motorcycle acrobatics that just feels good, man. Even if a majority of the new maps don't really add anything to the experience beyond what was done in Evolution, Trials is still straight up fun. It's just one of those game series that throws back to the classic days of repetitive, challenging gaming that puts blisters on your fingers and makes you want to break your controller. The good old days.

Pick up Trials Fusion today on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Xbox 360. The PC release of the 2D motorcycle won't be available until April 24, unfortunately. In the mean time check out the game's launch trailer, which is full of boring and inglorious preview quotes from outlets that out of context are almost entirely meaningless! Delicious hyperbole. The trailer does give a good look at the game's graphic updates though.


Respawn talk upcoming Titanfall changes, promises everything but map packs will be free

2 comments Lydia Sung - 6:01pm (PST) Like (1) Share

Evolving the game in coming months

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A game like Titanfall never stays still, and Respawn seems to understand this better than anyone. Today, Titanfall creative director Steve Fukuda offered a little insight into what the developer is up to and just what they're thinking. Looks like players can expect some changes to their favorite shooter in the upcoming months.

Fukuda describes the work they do on Titanfall as being of three major categories. First, Respawn focuses on the game itself, which may not really be a category but still serves as its own things. The devs make sure to work on what they've already got, tweaking what needs to be fixed to create a more solid multiplayer game for their community.

Then you've got the "convenience features," which serve to "make your life more pleasant in Titanfall." By contrast, the "infrastructural features" are more what some might refer to as "game-changing," such as the Private Match beta that went live recently. Not that one is ever more important than the other, because every update Respawn makes to Titanfall is with the intention of making it better.

Updates to Titanfall contain a variety of changes:

• First, we tend the garden and keep the weeds out. The focus here is on the current game, rather than adding new features. One category here would be minor tweaks and fixes, such as our recent adjustments to the Gooser challenge, more generous Hardpoint scoring for attacking players, and weapon balance tweaks to the Titan 40mm and Quad Rocket. Our ongoing improvements to matchmaking also fall into this group. This is all about the core health of the game.

• Next, there are "convenience features" - these are not huge infrastructural pieces, but they will make your life more pleasant in Titanfall, and they tend to be related to things you use or do repeatedly. For example, our most recent update introduced the requested Party Colors feature, allowing you to easily identify fellow party members both in game and in the lobby. The next update will bring more convenience features such as: the ability to rename your custom loadouts and to make custom loadouts specific to each game mode, a way to filter your Challenges by criteria such as 'closest to complete', and displaying the final scoreboard from your previous match in the Last Game Summary so you can review the scores at your leisure in the lobby.

• Then there are the "infrastructural features". One example of this is the recent beta release of Private Match. In future updates, we'll be bringing you the first wave of custom Private Match options, allowing you to personally tweak your Private Match experience in a variety of ways. Whenever possible, we want to get these kinds of features out early in beta form, in order to get your feedback and arrive at the best possible result through multiple iterations. Competition-oriented and what we call 'competitive spirit' features also fall into this category. More on that in future updates.

As for something a little more tangible? Well, in the next few months, players will see a new Burn Card set, Titan "nose Art" Insignias for Titan customization, and new game modes and game mode variants.

Titanfall is also getting its first DLC map pack in May, though Fukuda wanted everyone to also understand that map packs are the only content they plan to charge players for. Everything else -- like those aforementioned cosmetic features and game modes -- will be free.

Thanks, Respawn.


Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare goes west, free 'Zomboss Down' DLC available now

0 comments Rory Young - 9:58am (PST) Like Share

Don't trust a zombie in a stand-off, they don't have anything to lose

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PopCap Games has done it again, releasing a second free DLC pack for Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare. "Zomboss Down" will be available today for both Xbox One and Xbox 360 Garden Warfare players to download. Included in the DLC are eight playable characters (one for each class on each side), over 200 customizations, a level cap rise from 20 to 30 for each character and challenges to go along with each level, plus a map. Basically, if anyone thought they were done with Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare -- they were wrong.

While PopCap didn't provide a full, in-detail list of the items players will be able to pick up in-game, they do mention a few just to tease us:

  • Gardens and Graveyards Map - In Zomboss Down the plants have blasted down Dr. Zomboss’s blimp and unleashed packs of zombies, who are now roaming the desert and battling their way through the wreckage to reach the local golf course. This golf course doubles as a super-secret facility housing a Cactus army on the unbelievable new Gardens and Graveyards Map, Cactus Canyon.
  • Eight Classes - Including Archeologist Zombie, the Wrestling Star Zombie, the Law Pea and the Sun Pharaoh
  • Over 200 Customizations - [W]eapon upgrades and skins for new characters, new accessories, tattoos and facial hair, and even more.
  • Level Cap Raise from 20 to 30
  • Additional Challenges for Each Level

It should be noted fot those that haven't played Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare before that this sort of DLC doesn't just become freely available to all players after its released. Each and every player has to earn in-game currency with which they can buy card packs, which are filled with a random assortment of items. Acquire a specific class or item may take days or even weeks of playing. It's really a lot like Team Fortress 2 in this regard.

While I enjoyed myself some Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, it's difficult to consider going back at this point. Sure, cool customization options are great, but I know that with all the additional classes it will be even harder to get the cards I need to unlock things I want. Sure, a lot of the fun is the randomness related to what each player acquires, but I tend to prefer getting stuff that's related to what I find fun to play. Eh, free DLC is free DLC!

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare is currently available on both Xbox One and Xbox 360, with a PC release planned sometime in the future. The "Zomboss Down" DLC is free and should be available at some point today for download.

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Xbox One system update out tonight, deploying small changes like friend log-in notifications

2 comments Rory Young - 6:59pm (PST) Like Share

Xbox One has yet to become sentient

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Microsoft's up to no good again! Wait, did I say no good? I meant something pretty cool! They're updating the Xbox One with several smaller changes that should having something everyone can say, "Hey, yeah, that's pretty cool," about. Unless someone was waiting specifically for one of these updates, I wouldn't say any of them are particularly substantial. Still, an update is an update and every little thing counts.

According to Major Nelson's blog the system update will being going out tonight, but may not reach all Xbox One consoles for a few days. There are a lot of Xbox Ones to serve! Here's the list of changes that console owners can expect when the update does finally reach them:

  • Game and app saves and updates. A game save progress bar will show you the status of your game saves. You will also be able to easily tell what games and apps are being updated or have been updated recently.
  • Friends improvements. Notifications will be added to see when favorites and friends sign in to Xbox Live. This was one of the most frequently requested features, so we made it a priority to include it in this update. Also, friends who are in multiplayer will be identified in the friends list.
  • Kinect voice and motion improvements will continue to be fine-tuned for quality and reliability of Xbox One commands. For example, we’ve updated some of the gesture functionality to reduce false positives on non-hand objects triggering gesture commands.
  • Improved GameDVR video quality through compression algorithm improvements.
  • Blu-ray player supports 50 Hz video output for content recorded at 50 Hz. We’ll also be updating the Blu-ray Player app in the coming days to round out these improvements.
  • Controller and headset adaptor firmware updates will reduce audio static and improve wireless connectivity.
  • Silent reboot after system updates and system update on demand now available. If your console is in Instant On mode, the update will happen automatically and return to standby upon completion. This means you won’t need to power on your console after an update moving forward. If you want to take future updates when available without waiting for your console to do it on its own, we’ve added this option under system settings and you’ll be able to use it next update. It will only show as available when there is an update to take.

Hooray for small quality of life enhancements! While no change in particular is something I was looking forward to, it doesn't hurt to have better audio quality, updates on save progress and friend sign-in notifications. Also, I really dig this image that came with the announcement of Major Nelson's Dog-Cthulhu. Totally makes the entire update worth it.

Download the Xbox One's latest update some time over the next few days. Heck, it may just download without anyone even realizing it. Welcome to the future. 

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