Saturday, November 28, 2009

Star Wars: 501st - An Imperial Commando Novel Review

Well I got my answer. After reviewing Star Wars: Order 66 - A Republic Commando Novel here, I wondered if we'd get to see Vader and we did, though briefly. Like the rest of the series, Karen Traviss keeps the major characters from the films in the background because this story is told from the perspective of the grunts, not the generals.

The Republic is no more and the Jedi are dead or on the run, and the new Galactic Empire is quick to consolidate its power throughout the galaxy. But like all transitions, some things happen instantly, some things slowly, and there's certainly resistance to change along the way and for Emperor Palpatine, resistance needs to be crushed.

Kal Skirata and his ragtag family comprised of deserting Clones, Mandalorians, and even an ex Jedi now hide in their refuge on Mandalore, keeping a weary eye on the Imperial Garrison occupying the world while trying to raise Darman and Etain's son, the Force sensitive child Kad. Darman himself, devastated by the loss of his wife during the Great Purge, has remained with the new Empire to watch over his comrade and sergeant, Niner, and to try and shut himself out from the universe with the familiar and routine. The Grand Army of the Republic, however, is anything but as it to has been re-organized into the Imperial Army, a larger and darker version of what the GAR once was.

The majority of the remaining Republic Commandos are now part of the 501st, Vader's Fist, and serve the Empire as Imperial Commandos whose task it is to hunt down the remaining Jedi and deserters. The survivors of Delta Squad from Star Wars: Republic Commando fame are also a part of the 501st, though they're mainly absent from this novel.

Weighing in at 464 pages, Star Wars: 501st - An Imperial Commando Novel is a lengthy read, and honestly, it's the first novel written by Traviss that I have some mixed feelings about. One of Traviss' greatest strengths is that her tales are very character driven, and at the end of the previous book a major character was killed. This all comes down to some understandable grieving on the part of the survivors, but for roughly 200 pages, Traviss just hits the nail on the head one too many times. Etain is dead. We get it. Everyone's in shock. We get that to. The first half of the novel really does drag because of the excessive emotion throughout, and it lacks the balance of action, or emotion during action, that was so ever-present in previous novels.

Make no mistake, the book does pick up and there's some very, very interesting developments and several very fine examples of the long term planning that's gone into the series, but I can't help but feel that Star Wars: 501st - An Imperial Commando Novel is one of the lesser novels in the series. There's definitely some further setup going on though, which will hopefully mean an exciting and fulfilling sixth and final novel to the series.

The scope of what Kal is trying to do, to create a future for the Clones, any Clones who can desert and make their way to him, has changed and grown. The Empire is a very serious threat, and Kal and his boys are on the Most Wanted list, but with Niner and Darman in the 501st, they do have people on the inside. But should Darman be there when his son needs him? The politics within the new Empire itself, and how things haven't changed much yet for the average citizen, are certainly interesting to read as the Empire is only a few weeks old and there's already plenty of backstabbing and paranoia to go around.

Despite it's slow start, Star Wars: 501st - Imperial Commando is a good book, but I am looking at it more as a bridge, a transition, between the old and the new. Generally speaking, the characters themselves are still very solidly written, and they've certainly come a long way since the series first launched 5 years ago. The series is still one of the best military sci-fi stories I've ever read, and it's hard to believe that it all started as a tie-in novel for the game, and yet it's now gone far beyond that and really opened up some exceptional characters within the familiar Star Wars universe. Given how strong the series is, I think we can forgive Traviss for a slow start this time around, especially when viewing the series as a whole.

Gears of War: Anvil Gate Releasing March 2010

It looks like no time is going to be wasted with this series, as the next Gears of War novel is already set to be released in March 2010. Entitled Gears of War: Anvil Gate and once again written by Karen Traviss, the novel will continue the story of the COG remnants trying to rebuild after their devastating war against the Locust Horde.

Based on the information I found at Gearspedia here, it looks like the third novel in the series will follow the standard formula employed by Traviss: To contrast events of the present with a relevant, epic confrontation from the past, and in this case it'll be the siege of Anvil Gate.

This formula has worked very well thus far, might I add, and I'm quite curious to read about the Siege and the horrors Hoffman had to live through during those times. I'm also interested to see exactly what information will be given about the Lambent, and if the Locust are really still around or not. Seeing as how the Queen is still out there, I'm guessing so.

The Infernal Ripoff: An Elder Scrolls Novel

That's right kiddies, this past Tuesday The Infernal City: An Elder Scrolls Novel was released to book stores everywhere, but I like my title better. Why? Because weighing in at 272 pages, the book costs a whopping $17.99!

272 pages is not a novel, that's a pamphlet. On the same day, Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe also launched and it sells for $18.99. The difference? It's 528 pages and thick enough to smack your best friend upside the head over and over again until he's special!

But the only thing special in the head here is Random House if they think I'm going to be dumb enough to shell out that much cash for that little content. Shame on you, greedy publisher. A novel of this size should be around the $12.00 mark and no more.

Looking at the industry as a whole, I have not liked the shift where books are released as wanna-be hardcovers first, called trade paperbacks, and we're forced to pay a little more or wait a year for the book to be re-released as a regular mass market paperbound. No, I'm not too fond of that at all, but at least the normally trumped up trade paperbacks, like the Halo novels, have the length to back the cost, but The Infernal Ripoff is just insulting to reading enthusiasts everywhere.

The insult is compounded even more by how rich and lengthy the in-game books from the series actually are. Such a damn shame.

Mr. T's Night Elf Mohawk Grenade Second Commercial

That's right foo', there's yet _another_ comercial featuring Mr. T's Night Elf Mohawk Grenade in World of Warcraft. You can check it out below or here. Enjoy!

Mass Effect 2 Adept and Tali Videos

The more I see of Mass Effect 2, the more psyched for the game I get. Not only has BioWare redesigned the layout of the official web site, they've also released two great new trailers showing off the Adept class and how Tali will fall into the general storyline.

You can watch the trailers and check out a few new screenshots here or watch the trailers below, however WARNING, the Tali trailer does contain some minor spoilers.

Personally, I'm glad that Tali's back, and even more excited that she once again seems to be a member of your crew. What can I say, I have a thing for alien babes stuck in clean suits who'd die if I kissed 'em. What? It's the voice. Drives me wild.

BioShock 2 "Sinclair Solutions" Trailer

A new trailer for BioShock 2 has been released by 2K Games showcasing the game's Multiplayer mode. Entitled "Sinclair Solutions," the trailer shows the frenzied action that BioShock 2 will have.

While I love these style of "ads," frenzied action is exactly what BioShock _shouldn't_ have. Actioning the game up just seems plain wrong and against the spirit of the original title, which is why I really hope they release a demo before launch.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Left 4 Dead 2 (Xbox 360) Demo Impressions

Earlier this week I finally got around to trying out the Xbox 360 demo of Left 4 Dead 2, and I can honestly say that I was really underwhelmed. The major problem I saw was that the demo played almost exactly like the original game.

Now, I know a good sequel takes the strengths of its predecessor and builds upon them while leaving things familiar enough so fans of the previous entry will feel right at home, but aside from the fact that the demo's two levels were in the day time, I could use melee weapons, and there were a few different kinds of Special Infected, it really felt like _exactly_ the same game!

I've heard the retail release features some great weather effects and cinematic-styled sequences, but these weren't featured in the demo which leaves me wondering why. The point of any demo is to inspire someone to go and purchase the retail product, and based on the demo for Left 4 Dead 2, I see no reason to recommend it to someone over the original game, or if they're dying for their Co-Op zombie apocalypse fix, to not urge them to buy the original game at over half the cost instead.

Very disappointing Valve.

I personally didn't notice any huge visual upgrades, and the Source Engine is showing its age far more now than a year ago. The game relies on many of the same music cues as the original title, and the Melee weapons demoed were fun, but very powerful unless you're trying to free someone snagged by a Smoker. The new Special Infected added a little more variety to the general humdrum of the swarms, but nothing too fantastic as far as I'm concerned, and the flaming ammo we've seen in videos wasn't present at all unless I missed it.

Generally speaking, my impressions of this demo are much the same as they were with the original game's demo, which you can read right here.

Well, I did win a copy of Left 4 Dead 2 in the recent Xbox Canada Community Birthday Party, and I'm still deciding whether I should give it a whirl when it arrives or if I should just sell it at reduced cost or flat out give it to a buddy.

Xbox 360 Save Games Deleted

About 3 weeks ago in a brilliant stroke of genius, I ended off one of my weekends by deleting every single save file for my Xbox 360 retail games and Xbox LIVE Arcade games, including my back ups on my Memory Unit!

How did I achieve such a cornucopia of awesomeness, you ask? Well, about 2 weeks before that, I noticed some Achievements I had yet to unlock weren't showing up properly on my Dashboard, and I had read that Recovering your Gamertag could resolve this issue. Being riddled with OCD, I had to give this a try, but I'd heard some horror stories about the recovery feature and as a precaution, I decided to move my Profile to my Memory Unit and leave it there for two weeks in case something went wrong.

After moving my current Profile, I performed an Account Recovery on my HDD and everything worked perfectly. 2 weeks later, having experienced no issues what-so-ever, I decided it was time to remove that back up Profile on my Memory Unit.

I had just gone through removing some redundant back up save games from Fallout 3 when I selected that Profile and on complete automatic, I selected the "Delete Profile and Items" option. You see, "Delete Profile and Items" is in the exact same spot that I was clicking to remove those Fallout 3 saves, and of course, what does the "Items" part mean? You guessed it! Saved games!

But wait, there's more! Since the profile on my Memory Unit that was now being deleted carried the same association as the main Profile I had recovered, as well as linking it not only to all my back up save files, but also my main save files on my HDD, I could only stare dumbly as my Xbox 360 erased every single save file I had made in about 3 years of gaming.

Jackass unlocked!

Furious at my own stupidity, I did an exceptional Darth Vader impression, and then scrambled to contact Xbox Support to see if they had a warranty out on customer stupidity. Apparently dumbassedness is not covered under the Xbox 360 Warranty.

So, there you have it: all my save files gone. The good news is it wasn't anywhere near as crushing and final as I originally thought. I was able to recover my Gamertag again easily, and all of my Achievements as well as most of the unlocked levels and collectibles in the majority of my games are all tied to that, and my Themes and unlocked Gamer Pics were all there to.

Most of my games I would have restarted upon playing again anyway, so the real losses were my current Fallout 3 character, 30 hours down the crapper, the lack of a Mass Effect character to port into the sequel this winter, and to a lesser extent, the loss of my current The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion character. Otherwise, it was all bearable, so thank you to whoever at Xbox decided to tie so much of your gaming progress to your actual Gamertag. For example, I can load up Halo 3 or Gears of War 2 and select any Campaign mission, since I've already beaten them and this progress was tied to my Gamertag.

So the moral of the story? 1) Don't listen to OCD impulses. 2) Make sure you're clicking "A" on the right option, and 3) if you're going to delete a copy of your Profile, do so from someone else's console.

Halo 3: ODST ViDoc "Road to Recon"

In this week's Weekly Update, Bungie has released yet another ViDoc for Halo 3:ODST, this one entitled "Road to Recon."

Still trying to figure out how to earn your Recon Armour for Halo 3 Multiplayer? The gents at Bungie lay out all 7 Achievements you need to earn straight up.

You can watch the ViDoc below or here.

StarCraft II Official Site Updates

The official site for StarCraft II has received a large update, including a new Bio, artwork, screenshots, discussions on designing both single and multiplayer content, and also a short story set in the Starcraft universe.

I haven't had a chance to go through it all yet, but so far, I like!

Check everything out on the official StarCraft II site right here.

Mr. T's Night Elf Mohawk Grenade

While I'm not a fan of World of Warcraft, I do enjoy its ads and Mr. T returns for round two with yet another commercial, this time advertising the new Mohawk Grenade.

You can view the commercial below or right here.

Xbox LIVE Gold Features Free this Weekend

Just in time for the American Thanksgiving, Xbox LIVE Gold features, including Multiplayer, are free to all Xbox LIVE Silver members in all regions excluding Europe until noon on Monday (Eastern Time).

Europe will have their free time beginning on November 25th lasting until November 30th.

Full details can be found on Major Nelson's site here.

BioShock Special Edition and Final Box Art Revealed

Earlier this week, 2K Games unveiled the Special Edition for BioShock 2. The Special Edition will come in a 13"x13" package with slip case and feature 3 x posters, a vinyl 180g LP featuring the orchestral score from BioShock, a CD containing the orchestral score from BioShock 2, a 164 page 8"x11" art book, and of course a copy of the game.

My biggest concern would be where to place this Special Edition for proper display, and also the $99.99 (US) price tag is a bit of a turn off.

Should I pick up the game, I might just snag the regular edition, who's final box art can be viewed here.

Mass Effect 2 Final Box Art Revealed

Honestly, I kind of like the earlier box art better, but it is what it is. BioWare and EA have released the final box art for their upcoming Xbox 360 and PC action RPG, Mass Effect 2.

Regardless of the art, this is likely the next game I'll be picking up, and I might just spring for the Collector's Edition.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Xbox Canada Community Birthday Party

Eight years ago today, Microsoft released its Xbox video game system to the world, entering the console gaming market for the first time. On that same day, the Xbox community was officially born, and to celebrate this event and the community itself, Mister Switch and Keadin of organized the first Xbox Canada Community Birthday Party.

Held in downtown Toronto's Strathcona Hotel Pub, members of the Xbox Canadian community, forum regulars and friends, came to enjoy good company, food/drink, and games, and those who couldn't make the venue itself were able to join in via web cam. But not only was this event a celebration of all things Xbox, the good folks of also organized a charity raffle with all the donations going to Child's Play, a game industry charity that purchases games, books, and general entertainment for children in select hospitals. For the guests themselves, the prizes ranged from games for various platforms to DVD's to t-shirts, all donated by select publishers and other companies. Jaken Bear from Xbox Canada was on hand, but in a little role reversal he got to enjoy being a guest instead of an organizer, though naturally he did contribute some nice prizes for the raffle.

The atmosphere was light-hearted and fun, with everyone enjoying some great conversation and games of DJ Hero, which switched up to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 after a while. Nothing says "original Xbox launch" like a little splitscreen Multiplayer! Shortly in, we were also treated to some unique live tunes: chiptunes. For those who've never heard the term before, chiptunes is a form of music where the musicians use classic 8-bit gaming hardware, particularly the Nintendo Game Boy, to create a form of electronic music that certainly takes one back to a simpler time. Jefftheworld, who also performed at 2009's Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, entertained us with several tracks of his own mixing. For those interested in finding out more about chiptunes and Jefftheworld's performance at Nuit Blanche, you can check out this article at

At about 10:00 pm, amidst food, drink, and music, Keadin officially announced the raffle and began collecting the donations. For every $3.00 donated, the guest received one entry into the random draw, and once Jefftheworld's performance was complete and everyone had a chance to game, relax, and chat, the prize drawing began. By night's end, I don't think there was one guest who entered who didn't win at least one prize, and over $350.00 was collected for charity. Achievement unlocked!

But alas, all good things come to an end, and the first Xbox Canada Community Birthday Party came to a close. It was great to see some old faces and to connect with some new people for the first time, to put an actual face to someone you've long since chatted with on the forums but have never had a chance to meet in person. Community events like these, by and for the same community, are really a treat, and if you've never been to one before, please, come join us at the next one and say hello! Your Friend's List is guaranteed to grow.

Now, as I always end these write ups, here's a list of the loot I scored from the raffle:

- Left 4 Dead 2 (Xbox 360) (To be shipped at launch)
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (PC, Steam Download Code)
- Plants vs Zombies (PC)
- Gears of War Limited Edition Emergence Day 2006 Xbox 360 Faceplate
- Assassin's Creed II Developer T-Shirt (Given to Mister Switch, since I certainly won enough)

Kudos to Keadin and Mister Switch for all their hard work organizing the event, and a special thank you for putting together the charity raffle for Child's Play. A great event, and a great cause, really showing how strong and positive the Xbox Canada community is.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mass Effect 2 Missle Launcher Added to Arsenal

The Arsenal section of the Mass Effect 2 site has been updated with a Heavy Weapon: the Missle Launcher, and it also includes 2 additional screenshots.

You can read all about it right here, and I really, really want to know how that Launcher can store all of its ammo, especially when it collapses in such an impossible way.

Now that's what I call sci-fi.

Halo Wars Campaign Completed for the 2nd and 3rd Time

I hadn't really touched Halo Wars for months, so I decided to replay its Campaign, but this time on Heroic. Aside from Chapter 6, which proved ridiculously hard, the Campaign wasn't too bad at all, and I won each Mission under par time save for Chapter 6, which I'll re-attempt with some positive Skulls on later.

Mainly, I found the best thing to do was to quickly build up your economy and bass defences, and then upgrade and train Scorpions and Marines, replacing the Marines with Wolverines once they became available. I then focused specifically on the main objective to complete par times, and this worked on almost every level save the odd one where it was better to go all Hornets or whatever. Not too shabby, and I had a really great time with the Campaign. The cinematics are still top-notch, and I'm quite impressed at how well Ensemble Studios managed to translate RTS to a console controller.

I did notice some unit path finding issues more so this playthrough, where some units I'd issue a specific command to might get stuck amongst it's allies or whatever, and this caused me some grief from time to time. Not sure if this AI quirk was introduced via a Title Update by accident, or if it was always there and I simply didn't notice on Normal. I also had another weird bug at the beginning of Chapter 13 where my Xbox 360 would freeze on me if I had a Spartan board that first Locust, but once I stopped trying to do that I was fine, and on a subsequent replay this bug did not repeat itself. Weird.

After winning on Heroic, I checked my Service Record and noted that back in the Spring when I was Achievement whoring, I played all but 4 Missions through on Easy, so I decided to complete them so I could say I've gone through the Campaign three times now. And I did.

Next up for me on Halo Wars is to get Chapter 6 won on Heroic under par time, and to see if I can find a Co-Op partner for Legendary Difficulty. I also want to play a lot of Multiplayer soon and try to get the Office on Deck Achievement.

Honestly, this is one game I'd love to see a sequel to, however I have a sad feeling that I won't.

Xbox LIVE Update to be Released Tues. Nov. 17th

The next System Update for the Xbox 360, or the Xbox LIVE Update as they're now calling them, will go live this coming Tuesday, November 17th. The major additions that gamers can expect is the ability to use Facebook, Twitter, and the Zune Marketplace via their Xbox 360's.

Note that you need an Xbox LIVE Gold membership to use both Facebook and Twitter.

Personally, I'm not too excited for this update as I never use the existing Video Marketplace, and if I wanted to use Facebook or Twitter, I'd do so from my PC where they're a) fully featured and b) free.

I suppose good on Microsoft for adding additional Gold member content, but it does all seem rather weak to me.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

BioShock 2 Speargun and Rumbler Revealed

With BioShock 2 seeing you take on the role of the prototype Big Daddy, you'll naturally have other weapons at your disposal than Jack did the first time around. One of these is the Speargun, which is highlighted at The Cult of Rapture right here.

In addition, The Cult of Rapture has revealed a brand new Big Daddy that will be wandering the halls of Rapture, the Rumbler. Created after the events of the first game, apparently the Splicers got very good at taking down the original Big Daddies, so the Rumbler is the answer to this, working tirelessly to protect the new breed of Little Sisters.

Full details on the Rumbler can be found here.

Gears of War 2 Triple XP Week

To celebrate the first year anniversary of Gears of War 2, Epic Games is having a triple XP week! From 9:00 am on Fri. Nov. 6th to 9:00 am on Mon. Nov. 16th you'll be able to earn triple XP in both Versus and Horde.

Full details can be found right here.

Well, if you were looking for a reason to fire up Gears of War 2 again, I think you've just found it.

Mass Effect 2 Collectors' Edition Revealed, Enemies Trailer Released

The Collectors' Edition of Mass Effect 2, Bioware's upcoming action RPG, has been revealed for both the PC and Xbox 360.

The game will come in a stylish metal tin and feature a bonus DVD, a hardcover art book, in-game collector's edition weapon and armour, and the first issue of Mass Effect: Redemption.

Also, a new video has been released, the Enemies of Mass Effect 2. Get a glimpse at the baddies Commander Shepard and crew will tackle this time around here or below.

Well, looks like Legion was who we saw in the Teaser trailer. Why do I have a feeling it'll actually end up being one of your possible Squad Mates?

Anyway, you can also find new screenshots of the game on the official site right here.

The more I see of Mass Effect 2, the more impressed I am. Looking very, very slick.

Halo Waypoint Deploys

On Thursday, Halo Waypoint went live to the public. Where I originally thought it would be a dedicated Channel to all things Halo, this was only partially correct. It's not a Channel on your Xbox 360 Dashboard, but more like an Application that not only gives you the latest and greatest on Microsoft Game Studio's flagship franchise, but it also tracks your own Xbox 360 Halo career.

You'll find Halo Waypoint for download free under Games on Demand, however note you need to be an Xbox LIVE Gold member to use it (Silver members get a preview now for about 2 weeks, but I don't think they can use it after that). Once downloaded, you'll find the Application in your Games Library and it's launched the same way as any other title from there.

Once launched, the Application loads and takes you to the main screen where you can choose to track your career or check out the latest (and often exclusive to Halo Waypoint) Halo news. Halo Waypoint presently has 40 Milestones for you to reach with your Xbox 360 Halo career, and in order to reach each Milestone, you simply need to obtain a certain amount of Gamerscore combined from all available Xbox 360 Halo titles. Presently, Milestone 40 can be reached by obtaining 2900 Gamerscore which surprised me greatly since this can be achieved with the three existing out-of-the-box Halo games; no DLC required. I'm simply shocked that Microsoft would pass up an opportunity to milk its customers in such a way, but thus far, save for Gold member-only access, Halo Waypoint is really impressing me on the lack of "premium" content.

You can also earn Waypoint Awards by earning various related Achievements from the Halo games, and overall, combining this with the above Milestones adds a great new incentive to get online and earn your Gamerscore. These Milestones and Awards don't do anything as of yet, but they're another fun thing to collect while earning Achievements, something you'd do anyway.

Halo Waypoint also acts as a portal for the latest Halo news. Updated daily with content such as tips to exclusive videos (such as episodes of the Halo: Legends anime series), Halo Waypoint is something any Halo fan will want to check out constantly.

Halo Waypoint also spices up your Avatar. Simply for downloading it, you earn an Avatar Award, a prop in the form of a Forerunner Monitor! In addition, if you've earned specific Achievements in the latest installment of the Halo franchise, Halo 3: ODST, you can unlock various other Avatar Awards from t-shirts to full suits of ODST armour. Very, very cool and shockingly all free.

Having been available for only a few days now, I must say I'm very impressed with Halo Waypoint. It does weave the Halo Xbox 360 experience closer together, and provides some excellent news, information, and rewards for hardcore and casual fans alike. My only real gripe with Halo Waypoint would be that it shows up in your Games list, which means every time you log in to it, bam, it's there on your Gamercard. If you're going to check it each and every day, that means it'll almost always be in your top three games, obscuring what you're really playing from others. Still, this is mainly a cosmetic gripe, and I'm sure Microsoft wants that little icon shown all the time to help promote the franchise.

Overall, I'm very interested to see how Halo Waypoint will evolve with upcoming Halo games, and hats off to 343 Studios and Microsoft on a job well done thus far.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halo Encyclopedia Now Available

How the hell did I miss this launch? The Halo Encyclopedia, the official source to the Halo universe, is now available and has been since Oct. 20th.

It's a little on the steep side price wise, $46.00, but I decided to pick up a copy as I'm hoping it'll help resolve some of the plot holes brought about by Halo 3 and more recently, Halo 3: ODST. At the least, I'm curious to see what reason they give for not fighting Elites in the flashback sequences of Halo 3: ODST. Aside from the obvious of Bungie being too lazy to create an Elite AI.

Anyway, I'm through the Introduction, and thus far I haven't learned anything new, but it's just the introduction. Impressive artwork though, and it's about 352 pages long, so there's a good bit to go through. Once I finally do finish the Halo Encyclopedia, I'll review it as per normal.

Can you also believe, there's even a trailer for this book? You'll find it on the Halo Encyclopedia's main page here or below.

It's been 8 years, and that theme music still rocks.

Halo 3: ODST Avatar Awards in Next System Update

For those of you in the current Xbox LIVE Update Preview who are in a qualifying region, you already have access to Halo Waypoint and the Avatar Awards relating to Halo 3: ODST. For those of you that are not, Bungie has given us the full official details in this week's Weekly Update.

Once the next Xbox 360 System Update goes live, you'll be able to download Halo Waypoint, a Channel on your Dashboard for all things Halo, and also have access to various items for your Avatar relating to Halo 3: ODST, depending on what Achievements you've unlocked. Taken straight from Bungie:

  • Tourist – Black ODST T-shirt
  • Dark Times – ODST Hoodie
  • Campaign Complete (Normal) – Rookie’s Helmet
  • Good Samaritan – ODST Body Armor
  • Vidmaster Challenge: Endure – Dare Recon Helmet (Female), Recon Helmet (Male)

This means that I'll be sporting everything save for the Recon Helmet, since I have yet to attempt that Achievement. And honestly, this is how Avatar items should be brought about, as the Avatar Marketplace is such a bloody rip-off.

Limited Edition PlayStation 3 Uncharted: Drake's Fortune Bundle on Sale at Best Buy

The Everything Sony Event is happening at Best Buy, and they're presently selling their remaining quantities of the Limited Edition PlayStation 3 Uncharted: Drake's Fortune Bundle for $329.99.

For a 160 GB HDD and a copy of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, that's a really good deal. Had I more gaming time, I'd bite, but sadly I don't so I'll save my cash. If anyone _is_ interested though, you can check your local Best Buy for stock or order one of the last few units available online here.

Gears of War 2 Title Update 5 Released and Double XP Weekend

Title Update 5 has been officially released for Gears of War 2, and you'll download it the next time you pop the game in while connected to Xbox LIVE. So what does it fix/address/add? Enough stuff that I'm not gonna spoon feed it to you, you can you read the official details right here.

Also, this Halloween weekend was the perfect occasion for Epic Games to launch yet another Double XP weekend, and in the spirit of the holiday, Boomers are everywhere! They can attack in any wave, full Boomer squads will appear at random, and Waves 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 consist of only Boomers.

Yeah I know, this info is coming a little late what with it being Sunday morning and all, but come on. I was out drunk Friday night, and celebrating Halloween last night. Which meant I was drunk again. Seriously, your panties. Don't twist 'em. I told you that already!

Xbox 360 System Update

Earlier this week, a System Update was released for the Xbox 360. Note that this one is _not_ the update for Facebook and such, so if you're scrambling to find those applications don't get your panties all in a twist.

According to Major Nelson, this is a simple update that adds support for WPA2 encryption for the Xbox 360 Wireless Networking Adapter. Thus, it's a small but good update.

BioShock 2 Web Site Re-Launches, Two New Trailers, and Brute Splicer Revealed

Lots of new information has been released regarding BioShock 2 this week. Firstly, the official site for the game has been relaunched and opened up properly. You can check it out right here.

Secondly, we have two new trailers available. The first is of Campaign footage entitled "Siren Alley," and the second is of a Multiplayer mode called "Capture the Little Sister." You can watch both trailers below.

Lastly, The Cult of Rapture has revealed a new enemy you'll face in the game, the Brute Splicer. You can read all about him and view some concept art here.

Can I leave you with my personal impressions? I'm honestly not overly impressed with what I'm seeing. Maybe I'm wrong and it'll turn out to be different, but the gameplay is looking incredibly generic and unlike its exceptional predecessor, it looks to me like BioShock 2 is "actioning" its gameplay up. If I'm right and this is truly the case, then 2K Marin will be sucking out the very atmosphere that made BioShock such an exceptional title. I really do hope that we get a demo prior to launch.

And what's with every developer obsessing over using the word "Brute" for one of its enemies? Brute seems to be the new Grunt.