Xbox One and Only

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Microsoft revealed their new multimedia console on May 21, 2013. Also known as the Durango project, the new console is the third iteration in the Xbox family. Officially named as Xbox One, this console brings the series to the next level of gaming experience, at least from the hardware point of view.

Unlike Xbox 360 which featured a PowerPC architecture, Xbox One comes with a x86 based one, making the backward compatibility with Xbox 360 games just a dream which will never come true. The processing speed will be determined by 8 GB of DDR3 RAM from which 3 GB will be reserved for apps and OS, the rest of memory being left for the actual games. The graphics unit is based on an AMD GCM architecture. Also the the new Xbox will not have a composite or component video output. The video and audio input and output will be combined into a HDMI 1.4 support which is ready for a 4K video resolution (3840×2160) and 7.1 surround sound output.

Microsoft went to a more simplified design for their new console, similar to PS3 featuring a two-tone “liquid black” finish and a boxy look. By all means, Xbox One is like a black box, with no replaceable components. Even the 500 GB hard drive cannot be changed or removed. The good thing about this design is that the console looks much more compact, with no moving parts. Even the Blu-Ray drive features a fixed retractable system for a more secure way of reading the discs.

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In case you want to borrow some games from your friend, you should know that the game discs can be played on more than one console, but only after you pay a fee in order to unlock it on your console. That’s because the games are tied to both Xbox One console and Xbox Live account. Even if the game features only singleplayer you need to have 24 h internet access in order to play it.

The Kinect sensor is now part of the whole system. This means that Xbox One will not function without the sensor plugged in. The new Kinect uses a 1080p wide-angle view in comparison to the VGA resolution of the previous version, and has the ability to process a huge amount of data to read its environment. Therefore the sensor can now track up to 6 players at once, including their heart rate, and their gestures performed with the Xbox One controller.

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The Xbox One controller maintains the overall look from the Xbox 360 design. If it works, why would you change it? The design of the directional pad has been changed to a four-way button while the battery compartment is slimmer. The big addition here are the triggers which will feature independent rumble motors which simulate directional vibrations. Imagine firing a gun with a trigger. On the xbox 360 gamepad you would get a vibration effect in the whole surface of the controller. But now, with the new technology, the vibration will focused only on the trigger.

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A digital video recorder is the new component available in Xbox One, which empowers the user to record his gameplay. The user can also edit and share their video creations using built-in video editing tools. Unfortunately no one known at the moment if the DVR component will be able to record video from cable or satellite TV services.

The console is schedules to be released at the end of this year. Overall it seems that Microsoft will mark a new financial success with Xbox OneMore, and will be able to attract new users in their ecosystem, because their gimmick  is not just a gaming console, but more of a media center which  can easily compete against with other similar products like Apple TV and Google TV platform. More details and info will be presented exclusively at E3 2013.

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E3 2012 Report

E3 2012 took place in Los Angeles,  from June 5 to June 7. Overall 45,700 video game industry professionals, investor analysts, journalists, and retailers from 103 countries attended the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3 2012). E3 resulted in an estimated 30,000 total hotel room nights and generated nearly $40 million in revenue for the city. Approximately 200 exhibitors showcased the latest in computer and video game hardware and software, including the unveiling of the titles that will be the hottest titles among consumers.

We have gathered the crumbs and build an overall picture of what we have to expect from this year’s gaming industry. There are many new video games coming next year, a lot of them sequels to established franchises and many choices regardless of the console you own. If you could not make it to E3, here are some of the biggest highlights below:

Halo 4

“Halo 4” marks the return of Master Chief and the beginning of a new saga in the blockbuster franchise that has shaped entertainment history. E3 2012 marked the worldwide premiere of “Halo Infinity Multiplayer,” including the all-new, story-driven experience known as Spartan Ops. A first of its kind, Spartan Ops is an episodic adventure — playable in single-player or cooperatively with up to four players — that blends immersive storytelling, high-quality cinematics and action-packed gameplay to deliver an unprecedented serialized experience. Spartan Ops will extend the “Halo 4” experience well beyond the game’s launch. “Halo 4” hits store shelves on Nov. 6, 2012, delivering its most epic and explorative campaign yet, together with groundbreaking multiplayer action.

Resident Evil 6

“Resident Evil® 6” features three distinct, yet interwoven, storylines, each with its own pair of protagonists for either solo or co-op play, both offline and online. Leon S. Kennedy is paired with government agent Helena Harper, while Chris Redfield teams up with fellow BSAA member Piers Nivans. Finally, gun- for-hire and son of the infamous Albert Wesker, Jake Muller is joined by series returner Sherry Birkin. All six must face new horrors as they fight to survive the global C-virus outbreak. Blending both action and survival horror, “Resident Evil® 6” promises to be the dramatic horror experience of 2012.

Tomb Raider

Armed with only the raw instincts and physical ability to push beyond the limits of human endurance, “Tomb Raider” delivers an intense and gritty story into the origins of Lara Croft and her ascent from a frightened young woman to a hardened survivor.

Gears of War: Judgement

“Gears of War: Judgment” takes you back before the events of the original “Gears of War” trilogy to the immediate aftermath of Emergence Day — the defining event of the “Gears of War” universe. Follow Kilo Squad, led by Damon Baird and Augustus “The Cole Train” Cole, as they fight to save the city of Halvo Bay from an unstoppable enemy in the most intense “Gears” game yet. “Gears of War: Judgment” introduces a variety of new multiplayer experiences, including OverRun, a thrilling new class-based competitive mode that will pit Locust and COG soldiers in a head-to-head battle unlike anything “Gears” fans have experienced yet. “Gears of War: Judgment” will launch worldwide in early 2013.

Forza Horizon

Combining the legendary “Forza Motorsport” authenticity with a festival atmosphere and the freedom of the open road, “Forza Horizon” is a high-intensity, action-racing game set against the backdrop of the world’s most unique motorsport party. Featuring an expansive landscape, daring driving maneuvers to master, a rousing soundtrack and visceral moment-to-moment gameplay, “Forza Horizon” offers an immersive pick-up-and-play experience while retaining the unrivaled realism, diversity and innovation that are hallmarks of the “Forza Motorsport” franchise.

Fable: The Journey

“Fable: The Journey” offers a whole new way to experience the deep storyline and picturesque world of Albion that fans have come to know and love. Set 50 years after the events of “Fable III,” this new version asks you to come to the aid of the mysterious Theresa, who thrusts you into an action-packed adventure full of dangerous enemies, hair-raising chases and humorous characters. Built from the ground up for Kinect, “Fable: The Journey” gives you the power to wield magic as a deadly weapon, defend yourself in combat and solve puzzles on your journey to becoming a hero.”Fable The Journey” will launch on Oct. 9, 2012, in North America, South America, Asia and Australia and Oct. 12, 2012, in EMEA.

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Assassin’s Creed III brings the player into the American Revolution

A lot of rumors surrounded the latest installment in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, but none of these pointed that you will be thrown into the American Revolution. Until February 29, 2012 when promotional image of the game was sent to Kotaku by a Best Buy employee. The image brought enough details to show that the game is set in North America during the American Revolution.

But now everything is official.

Assassin’s Creed III is the next major installment in the franchise, the result of almost three years of development. Surprisingly it is considered to be third title in the series, although it comes after Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. In order to bring light in this problem Jean-François Boivin of Ubisoft stated: “each numbered title in the series will introduce a new lead character and a new setting.” So, without any other debates, this is considered the official third title of the series.

In Assassin’s Creed III you will play as Connor Kenway, a new assassin who will fight for the liberty of his people and his nation in the American Revolution. To do so, you will hunt your enemies across a staggeringly large, open, and realistic world. You will unleash your lethal skills in a violent  quest that will take you from chaotic city streets to blood-soaked battlefields in the hostile American wilderness and beyond. You will meet legendary heroes  of American history, and together you will conspire to annihilate those who threaten Liberty itself.

Assassin’s Creed III comes with the all-new exclusively designed engine called Anvil Next. Thanks to this new breed engine the game will feature state of the art motion-capture, animation, and AI technology, which deliver more realistic character animations and interactions than ever before. For the first time in the franchise, Assassin’s Creed III comes with three natural cycles: dynamic weather, seasons, and time presence. These cycles will significantly affect the world around you.

Improved physics are taken a step forward. You can take down your enemies with tomahawks, pistols, and more. Use your instinctual tracking skills to learn what happened after an event, and shape your future actions accordingly. Experience the true scope of war as thousands engage in battle.

The only downside is that the PC version will have no keyboard and mouse support. Regarding this issue, Ubisoft Montreal Creative Director Alex Hutchinson stated:

“We’re definitely supporting PC, we love PC, but I think it’ll be PC with a controller. I don’t see us investing hugely in a mouse and keyboard setup. I think if you want to play on PC and you want to play Assassin’s Creed, you have a controller.”

The game will be available for XBOX 360, PS3 and PC on October 30 in North America.

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Mass Effect 3 Preview

Mass Effect 3 is a sci-fi action-RPG released on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360; marking the final entry in one of the most critically-acclaimed and best-selling video game series of the last decade. The title has already been generating a lot of positive buzz in the gaming community, but the release of a demo has given players their first hands-on experience outside the leaked beta last year.

The demo itself consists of two levels that give you a good sense of both the new and improved gameplay, as well as the sheer scope and emotional drama of the story. The first level begins on Earth in the middle of a reaper attack and ends with Shepard being handed his mission: enlist other species in the fight against the Reaper threat. Mass Effect has always excelled in its level design, and the visuals are predictably stunning as Shepard fights his way across a living and breathing futuristic city being ripped to shreds by Reaper attacks. There’s not been a drastic step-up from Mass Effect 2, but the graphics definitely look much more polished and slick.

In the second level Mass Effect 3 really gets a chance to show off its third-person shooter chops. Rife with gunplay, this “defend a Krogan” mission gives you a good sense of what changes Bioware have made to Mass Effect 3’s combat. The controls feel a bit tighter and more intuitive than in Mass Effect 2, and the addition of a basic dodge roll feels so essential that you won’t believe that previous entries missed something so simple. One small gripe would be that the cover system seems a little “sticky”, meaning you’ll find yourself ducking down for shelter when you’re really trying to run past something. Still, it’s a small issue. And with new editions like the omni-blade melee attacks giving combat a rougher, more visceral edge, the overall impression is positive.

If you really want to get a sense of Mass Effect 3’s combat though, you’ll need to head over to the multiplayer mode. This is a new addition to the series and Bioware have stated that achievements in multiplayer will positively affect your single player campaign. When you start multiplayer you’ll choose a class and a race, and then partner with up to 3 other players to fight off increasingly difficult waves of enemies. Each kill earns you XP to upgrade your character, while completing objectives earns you credits to buy items and new character classes.

It’s in multiplayer that the improved AI of Mass Effect 3 becomes noticeable; enemies might arrive in waves, but they’ll dodge, flank and use cover intelligently to avoid fire. Really excelling at multiplayer requires a surprising depth of teamwork and tactics, and with loads of new classes and items to unlock there’s a decent amount of lifespan once your single-player campaign is finished. Overall, both multiplayer and the single player campaign look to have impressive replay value.

Reassuringly, early reviews from the American release are showing Mass Effect 3 to be the most critically acclaimed entry in the trilogy, as well as a leading contender for game of the year 2012. And with Bioware hinting at future releases set in the Mass Effect universe, hopefully this isn’t the last we’ll be seeing of the Alliance, even if Commander Shepard takes some well-earned retirement from the leading role. But for now, make sure you’ve got your Mass Effect 3 demo downloaded and your copy of the main game on pre-order. Mass Effect 3 is panning out to be this console generation’s essential action-RPG.

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Most wanted games for the end of 2011

The major game developers have started the release campaign for Holidays 2011, which means they will offer to the public their best products and franchises. In this way they are trying to hit the big pot in the most prolific financial quarter of 2011. Companies like EA, Activision, Bethesda, Warner Bros, are already fighting to position their AAA titles into top 20 most wanted games of this year. Based on this top and on our subjective (but sometimes true) virtual tastes, here are our choices for this year’s Holidays most wanted games:

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3:

Activision comes this Fall with their first person shooter blockbuster which will come with a much darker storyline suitable for Mature audience. Scheduled for November this year this title will blow all the selling charts like its sibling titles from this popular franchise. The multiplayer will be even faster involving vehicles control and an improved achievements system. The pre-orders from the official resellers are showing the same speculative price of $59.99, with 10 bucks more than the average price for an AAA title.


Battlefield 3:

From the same genre but emphasized more on the multiplayer aspect, Battlefield 3 will make its debut in October for all major platforms. The next installment in the internationally acclaimed Battlefield series, is the result of three years of development and a new game engine, featuring state of the art technology with superior performance in character animation, visual rendering, audio/sound and physical destruction. Battlefield 3 is the only FPS in the marketplace using Frostbite 2 engine, and the only shooter capable of making the gameplay experience feel alive with all the sights, sounds, movements and action of real-world incursions. Beta for multiplayer has already been started.

Battlefield 3 captures the intense reality of modern warfare across the globe. DICE has worked closely with highly decorated ex-SAS operator and acclaimed author, Andy McNab, to ensure the authenticity and grittiness of today’s war is captured in both the single player and multiplayer campaigns.

Rage:

Rage is the next id Software’s baby, a complex shooter that takes place in an post-apocalyptic world. It’s the first time when id Software changes the environment of their legendary shooters, from claustrophobic indoors to wide open spaces. Initially this game should have been published by EA, but in the end Bethesda (known for Fallout 3) are the ones that have won this privilege. I’ve mention this because you can see from the beginning some similarities with the Fallout universe. Therefore the question comes: Are we ready for another post-apocalyptic shooter? All I can say is that the game will be released in a week for all major platforms. Grab it and see what offers.


The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:

With this title Bethesda tries again to path its way to the top of most wanted games, this time in the role of the developer behind The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The next installment in the Elder Scrolls franchise continues the RPG experience based on an epic storyline. Skyrim reimagines and revolutionizes the open-world fantasy epic, bringing to life a complete virtual world open for you to explore any way you choose. Skyrim will feature an ensemble cast of Academy Award nominees, including Christopher Plummer (“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”, “The Insider”), Max Von Sydow (“The Exorcist,” “Minority Report”), and Joan Allen (“The Contender,” “The Bourne Ultimatum”).The game will be available worldwide on November 11, 2011 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

Gears of War 3:

Epic Games and Microsoft launched Gears of War 3 at the end of September. The action packed exclusive XBOX 360 game brings back its dynamic gameplay and its legendary characters including Marcus, Baird, and Dominic. Besides the single-player campaign with a cinematic story, the multiplayer has been improved. Five-on-five multiplayer battles and four player co-op campaign enlarges the multiplayer experience. Beast Mode is the new multiplayer mode that offers the player the chance to take on the role of the locust horde and their assorted variations!


FIFA 12:

Today EA launched FIFA 12 for all the major consoles including Wii and PS2 and handheld gadgets like PSP or iPhone. With an all-new Career Mode, driven by the storylines from the real-world of the sport, with elements like player morale, on-pitch form and league position that will influence outcomes in the game, users will face more decisions and factors than ever before. With the latest installment, soccer has never been so brilliant simulated. Thanks to the new physics engine, the Player Impact Engine, fans will experience the way real-world footballers challenge each other for the ball, win possession, and test each other physically. The engine processes decisions continuously in real-time at every point of contact on a player’s body to create an infinite variety of natural and believable outcomes in every collision. Players now feel more resilient, push and pull during the fight for possession, and recover from light challenges more easily.

Batman Arkham City:

For anyone that loves comics and action games, Batman Arkham City is the best choice for this season. Set inside the heavily fortified walls of a sprawling district in the heart of Gotham City, this highly anticipated sequel introduces a brand-new story that draws together a new, all-star cast of classic characters and murderous villains from the Batman universe, as well as a vast range of new and enhanced gameplay features to deliver the ultimate experience as the Dark Knight. The game will be available from October 21st  in the UK for Xbox 360, PC and the PlayStation 3.

Some important figures from the comics will make their debut as playable characters: Catwoman (with her own story in single-player) and Robin (in all challenge maps in the game) ; and new villains as opponents for Batman: Mr. Freeze, Penguin, The Riddler and Two Face.

NFS The Run:

What would be a most wanted top without the latest NFS game. Developed by Black Box NFS The Run is a game that takes players on a heart-pounding cross-country race from San Francisco to New York. Launching on November 15, Need for Speed The Run lures players into an underground world of illicit, high-stakes racing. Powered by DICE’s state-of-the-art Frostbite 2 engine (same as in Battlefield 3), Need for Speed The Run takes the action racing genre to new heights with stunning visuals and car physics that hug the road even at top speeds all built around a gripping storyline. Besides the storyline driven gameplay, EA proudly presents the official licensed line of Porsche models, including the 2012 Porsche 911.

Dark Souls (prepare to die over and over again):

Nobody ever thought that Demon Souls, that actually came out of nowhere in 2009, will be a hit on PS3. Two years later Dark Souls is the spiritual successor to this unique RPG, already received by the critics as an AAA title.  Developed by the same team FROMSOFTWARE, the game will be available in October for XBOX 360 and PS3. Set in a rich, dark fantasy universe, Dark Souls features tense dungeon crawling, fearsome enemy encounters and ground-breaking online features which combine for a truly unique RPG experience. As players encounter terrifying enemies and discover new areas, the game’s foundation of challenge and reward permeates the experience to provide an unparalleled sense of achievement. The developers have assured the whole community that the increased difficulty present in the first title will break the barriers of your patience in Dark Souls. This is what stands behind the so called sense of achievement.

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BioShock Infinite wins 75 E3 2011 editorial honors

BioShock Infinite, the next installment in the  BioShock series developed by Irrational Games, has earned 75 E3 2011 editorial awards, including 39 “Game of Show” awards.

In addition to these honors, the press had high praise for what they saw of the game at E3 2011:

E! Online called  BioShock Infinite “simply gorgeous, the best looking game at E3,” while USA Today said  BioShock Infinite was “The most talked-about game at E3.” The New York Times wrote, “In narrative depth and intellectual ambition,  Infinite appeared to be the top of the class at E3.”

“At this year’s E3, members of the Irrational team were honored to see the amazing games our industry friends and colleagues are producing. And we are thrilled that the gaming media selected  BioShock Infinite as a standout title at the show,” said Ken Levine (@iglevine), creative director and president of Irrational Games.

If you don’t believe it, check out the two minutes E3 2011 trailer that showcases these honors:

In addition to the many independent editorial awards,  BioShock Infinite also earned the industry’s most coveted E3 honor, the Game Critics Awards’ “Game of Show.” This marks another significant win for a title developed by Irrational Games, as the original  BioShock was awarded the Game Critics Awards’ “Best Action/Adventure Game” honor in 2007.

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Sony Online Entertainment also hacked

Further investigations in the PSNetwork security breach brings bad news for Sony. Its multiplayer game service was also hacked. Known as Sony Online Entertainment, the service is the second major victim of a huge hack attack on the Sony’s most ‘moneymaker’ products. PlayStation chief Kaz Hirai declared on Sunday that the credit card details of nearly 10 million PSN users may have been acquired illegally.

The damage doesn’t stop here. Another 10,700 bank account numbers have been stolen from the SOE network, property of users outside US (Germany, Austria, Netherlands and Spain). The first lawsuit against Sony’s latest security issues comes from a user in Alabama, and this is just the beginning of a wave of legal scrutiny.

read PSN down for the seventh day | read PlayStation Network will be back up this week

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PlayStation Network will be back up this week!

Sony issued an official statement regarding the cyber attack on their PSNetwork in which they announce the restoration phase of the service along with some freebees for all the subscribers.

The restoration phase will be applied by region of PSNetwork and Qriocity beginning with gaming, music and video services to be turned on.

The initial phase of the rollout will include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Restoration of Online game-play across the PlayStation®3 (PS3) and PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) systems
    -This includes titles requiring online verification and downloaded games
  • Access to Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity for PS3/PSP for existing subscribers
  • Access to account management and password reset
  • Access to download un-expired Movie Rentals on PS3, PSP and MediaGo
  • PlayStation®Home
  • Friends List
  • Chat Functionality

The new security measures implemented include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Added automated software monitoring and configuration management to help defend against new attacks
  • Enhanced levels of data protection and encryption
  • Enhanced ability to detect software intrusions within the network, unauthorized access and unusual activity patterns
  • Implementation of additional firewalls

Also known as the “Welcome Back” appreciation program, Sony will offer some goodies for all the present subscribers. The program will include:

  • Each territory will be offering selected PlayStation entertainment content for free download. Specific details of this content will be announced in each region soon.
  • All existing PlayStation Network customers will be provided with 30 days free membership in the PlayStation Plus premium service. Current members of PlayStation Plus will receive 30 days free service.
  • Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity subscribers (in countries where the service is available) will receive 30 days free service.

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