Saturday, August 28, 2010

Halo: Reach "Deliver Hope" Live Action Trailer

A new live action trailer for Halo: Reach has been released. Entitled "Deliver Hope," it features Noble Team battling against the Covenant. Set before the game, this video shows us how Kat looses her arm and how the original Noble Six (whom you replace in the game) is killed.

Very, very cool. According to Bungie's Weekly Update, the extended version will be released on September 6th, which I'm quite looking forward to.

The Walking Dead Comic-Con Trailer

The Walking Dead, a comic series involving a zombie apocalypse, is coming to AMC this Halloween as a live action series. The first trailer is out, and it looks great!

As some of you know, I work in TV so I never watch it (and yes Drew, this makes perfect sense!), but this series is one I'll definitely be checking out.

The trailer depicts a zombie apocalypse that looks well thought out, and one that might actually feature dynamic characters and a little "human factor." Very exciting!

BioShock 2: Minerva's Den Release Date

The Cult of Rapture has revealed that the final DLC for BioShock 2, "Minerva's Den," will be released this coming Tues. Aug. 31st for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

No mention of cost, or the PC version's release date.

Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker Details

Coming on September 7th for 800 Microsoft Points or BioWare Points, Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker is the latest DLC for BioWare's popular action RPG.

Taking place on Illium, players get to team up with Liara as she hunts down the Shadow Broker. The DLC will add the Shadow Broker's intel centre, 5 new Achievements, a chance to continue a relationship with Liara (if you already had one, I guess), as well as new research.

It'll be interesting to see the playtime for this DLC.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Halo: Reach Firefight and Assault Videos

In today's Weekly Update, Bungie has released two amazingly sweet videos featuring Halo: Reach's Firefight game type, and another featuring a short Assault match. You can drool over all of them below.

Both Firefight videos show off two new maps, Corvette and Outpost, with Corvette being the only map to feature Engineers. The Assault game is played on The Cage which is a predecessor to Lock Out and done up in Forge.

Gears of War 2 Labour Day Weekend Event

This coming Labour Day weekend, players can expect to earn extra experience points in Gears of War 2. How much? Well, that'll depend on you!

For every 1000 fans of the official Gears of War Facebook page, Rod Ferguson will add +1 XP for Labour Day weekend. The current total: 21,000 fans, which means 21 x XP!

You can still increase this number by becoming a fan before midnight tonight PST, so if you're on Facebook then sign up!

BioShock 2 Completed on Hard

Two days ago, I completed my second playthrough of BioShock 2, my first time on Hard. Once you progressed a bit into the game and beefed yourself up, it honestly wasn't too difficult, but it was harder than the original which was a good thing.

This playthrough I focused on using the Machine Gun and Drill, and I made extensive use of Hypnotize and Security Command. I also harvested every Little Sister and killed the three NPCs, so I got to see the "bad" ending.

While I still maintain you don't really feel like a Big Daddy, BioShock 2 does have some nice emotional impact. I really did feel bad Harvesting all those Little Sisters, and I felt like a total jerk for corrupting Elanor. So I suppose that since I felt some attachment to the Little Sisters, I did feel a bit like a Big Daddy after all.

They did ruin hacking though. Just frustrates the hell out of me. Regardless, definitely a much better game than I thought it would be, and I'm really glad I picked it up. Now to rank up in Multiplayer, and to playthrough the Single Player one more time.

Halo: Reach "A Spartan will Rise" ViDoc

Earlier this week, Bungie released a new ViDoc for Halo: Reach, entitled "A Spartan will Rise." You can check it out here or below.

I suspect that's Dr. Halsey herself, which is very cool since this'll be her first in-game appearance. What's not cool is it seems she's discussing the Spartan-III's, which looks to be some more retcon as she's not supposed to learn about the Spartan-III project until Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, set after Halo 2.

On a non retcon topic, I wonder who she's talking to.

Mass Effect 2 Coming to PlayStation 3 in January 2011

Well I'll be. This coming January 2011, EA and BioWare will be porting what I thus far consider the game of the year, Mass Effect 2, to the PlayStation 3.

Since the original is not available on the platform, it sounds like there'll be a bit of an extended intro or something where players can get familiar with the universe's backstory, and all the DLC will also ship with the game. Additional hours of new gameplay is also expected.

You can check out the short announcement trailer below.

Very cool news for PlayStation 3 owners, and if you haven't had the chance to play the Xbox 360 or PC versions, I'd highly recommend picking this up when it launches!

For full details, check out the Mass Effect site for the press release.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Halo: Reach Viral Marketing Campaign

It looks like Xbox Canada is having a viral marketing Campaign for Halo: Reach, similar to the one they held for Halo 3: ODST that we partook in detailed here and here.

Yesterday, two things occured:

1) Newsletter subscribers received an email that directed them to this site here. Not only does it announce a public Halo: Reach Canadian launch event on August 28th in Vancouver and September 4th in Toronto respectively, it first describes the gist of the viral campaign itself: to find advanced Covenant patrols with events culminating in, well, something this Saturday at noon in Toronto and at 1:00 pm in Vancouver. Apparently there's the chance to win the Xbox 360 Limited Edition Halo: Reach Bundle, and Twitter followers will be entered into a draw to win the Legendary Edition of Halo: Reach.

2) Xbox News launched in Canada to much disappointment. The catch, today's episode has Halo: Reach related info in the news ticker:

"0914210-^=1200-34*3 the Covenant is coming...attacks are imminent. A-271214.378.20104**_0 Gamers make great soldiers? Study suggests hand-eye coordination, problem solving required in game play, could help develop better soldiers. 0.10.2012:^.419.0*-+:> @UNSC_INTEL"

So, what does that mean? Well, right now the current theory is that "0914210" is the launch date for Halo: Reach, and "1200" could be the time for the Toronto mystery event this Saturday. "34*3" could refer to 343 Industries, but I checked Halo Waypoint and nothing there.

The rest? I'm not sure. I tried using the numbers as coordinates, longitude and latitude, but nothing.

Like last year's campaign, I'll continue to update this post as quickly as I can as more is discovered. If anyone has any additional info, feel free to comment!

Update #1: Looks like the last numbers are the reverse of the first numbers: 0914210 and 012:^.419.0, though I'm not sure what the other numbers represent yet. The number reversal perhaps could hint at Toronto and Vancouver, different ends of the country, but I don't know for sure. I wonder if A-271214.378.20104**_0 might have to do with a UNSC serial number or AI service number?

Update #2: Last night's episode has a slight variation in the news ticker. It now reads:


The difference from the previous days? "^^>@" are all characters now missing from the text.

You can also watch all three episodes of Xbox News below. Perhaps more characters will disappear in tonight's broadcast, and the message will become clearer.

More details as they develop.

Update #3: Thanks to "J" for pointing out that the Twitter site has now been updated with a link to a pic. So where is that location? Toronto? Vancouver? Your guess is as good as mine, as it's devoid of any recognizable landmarks!

Update #4: Last night's episode of Xbox News started by showing the UNSC Tower from the above update, and stated that it's located in Toronto. The pic shown (you can watch the episode below) on Xbox News displayed more of the background, and the location looked very familiar to me.

The ticker now also reads: "0914210 -^=1200-34*3 UNSC CONTROL POINT ESTABLISHED IN TORONTO. LOCATION CLASSIFIED A-271214.378.20104**_0 PREPARE YOURSELF FOR BATTLE - THE UNSC NEEDS YOU 0.10.2012:^.419.0*-+:> @UNSC_INTEL"

On the way to work this morning, I took a slight detour and sure enough, the UNSC Tower is located at Queen and Soho. The following pics are taken with my own mobile's camera.

Not shown in the pics, there's a power cord running from the Tower to the parking ticket booth, so I expect the UNSC Tower will have pretty, pretty lights or something tomorrow around noon. Perhaps I should make the trip to downtown on my weekend after all!

Update #5: The Twitter site was updated earlier today with an image of a new UNSC Tower in Vancouver. Akin to the one found in Toronto, you can check it out right here. A more recent tweet has confirmed that details for tomorrow's event will begin arriving via Twitter at noon EST, or more specifically, "Location tweets."

So what does that mean? Sounds like a scavenger hunt of sorts to me!

Tonight's episode of Xbox News (video to come once available) also showcased what appears to be a copy or copies of the Halo: Reach Limited Edition delivered to Xbox Canada, as well as additional pics of the Vancouver Tower. The rest of the episode mainly contained gaming related news for a change, and discussed a kite-flying ban in my childhood park (lousy city of Toronto)!

But back to the Viral Campaign. I'm going to discount the ticker feed numbers as irrelevant right now, and I'm expecting a scavenger hunt tomorrow with copies of the Halo: Reach Limited Edition up for grabs. If I'm right, I'm expecting the winners will need to wait until launch to get their game.

Update #6: You can check out last night's episode of Xbox News below:

I'd like to thank GameShark for the videos, and also to both KowZ and TheBruce for their support and info as well.

So, let's see what happens at noon EST today!

Update #7: It's quite fitting that my 7th update is the one that reveals all, given the franchise in question, is it not?

I met my associate Kedglo at the Queen and Soho UNSC Tower for noon, and while I was in transit, the first Tweet came out at about 11:30 am EST. The contents: Covenant forces spotted along with a set of GPS coordinates. The location: Yonge & Eglinton.

Considering the distance to cover and the time limit that was placed, we weren't going to make it in time. KowZ, TheBruce, and DJ Datz who were going to meet us at the Tower were able to redirect, what with them being in a car and all, so they got to the location in time.

The next location was soon revealed, and thanks to KowZ and his trusty laptop, he was able to inform us it was at Yonge and Bloor. So, Kedglo and I hoofed it there for one nice, long walk, and made it just in time.

We found a line waiting with two purple-shirted gents at the front, the Covenant advance force, handing out items and taking contact info. The items: A UNSC dog tag and Halo: Reach sticker. The info collected: Our name, email, and phone number. The reason: At the launch event on Sept. 4th, present the dog tag and a receipt showing a pre-order of the game, and you'll be able to participate in a match of laser tag, UNSC versus Covenant! We might also gain early access (need to wait for an email to confirm), and everyone who registered is entered into a draw to win the Xbox 360 Limited Edition Halo: Reach Bundle.

Once you signed up, there was no reason to proceed to additional locations, but of course the Covenant patrol kept moving, next to Yonge and Dundas, then to Bay and Dundas, and they're still going as of last check.

I want to thank Xbox Canada and their promotional company for putting this viral campaign together. It was a lot of fun, and here's hoping for more in the future!

KowZ also told me that some of you were looking around for me, and I'm sorry I didn't get to meet anyone in person. I will be at the launch event on the 4th of September, and I hope to see you all there!

Update #8: With the Vancouver launch event happening this Saturday, more info keeps on coming. Last night's episode of Xbox News can be viewed below, and features some changes in the ticker text:

Some new characters in there are causing HTML issues when I try to post them, and I'm not savvy enough to fix them I'm afraid, so go here to see what the ticker text now says (check Episode 6).

"A-271214.378.20104**_0" has been removed and "0828210*106" has been added, which represents the date of the Vancouver launch event. The site Remember Reach is also referenced, of course.

According to the Twitter feed, there's also something going on with FourSquare, and my guess is it's a chance for people who couldn't make it this past Saturday to get their chance at entering the draws, but I could be mistaken. I've never used FourSquare before myself, so if you give it a whirl tonight leave a comment and let me know what it's all about.

Lastly, KowZ reported on the Xbox Forums here that tonight's episode of Xbox News is now live, and the ticker text can be read in his update. I'll post the video once available.

Personal, I'm expecting all news this week to primarily be related to Vancouver's event, and next week for Toronto's.

More as it develops!

Update #9: KowZ is the man with his finger on the pulse of this campaign! This morning, he posted a comment with last night's video of Xbox News and for ease of access, here it is for all of you to view:

Thanks again KowZ, and to for capturing the videos in the first place!

More updates to come as the Campaign keeps truckin' on!

Update #10: Last night's episode can now be viewed below.

According to KowZ, tonight's episode of Xbox News actually contained a download token in the ticker text, but what exactly did the token unlock? Not sure, as it was used before KowZ could get to it!

Update #11: The 9th episode of Xbox News is now available below:

This past Saturday, the Halo: Reach launch event was held in Vancouver, and the good word from our neighbours on the west coast? Sadly, not that good. In the thread on the Xbox forums here, Necro2607 and GaussianMist paint a rather disappointing picture. Apparently, arriving on time and with all the requirements for "early access" still resulted in over an hour wait to play the game of laser tag. Xbox Canada didn't have enough t-shirts for everyone and even VIP access members went without that swag.

While lasertag was fun, the real kick in the face was that Halo: Reach wasn't at the event at all. That's right, you read correctly. This was the Halo: Reach launch event, and Halo: Reach itself was not present. Gamers could play Halo 3 or Halo 3: ODST only.

What a major let down for fans in Vancouver, and here's hoping the Toronto event this Saturday is better organized and more importantly, actually features the game for which the event is being hosted!

For those interested, Necro2607 has photos of the launch event here. The game of laser tag does look really cool, but no Halo: Reach...

Update #12: The Toronto event has come and gone! You can check out my write-up over here, and yes, Halo: Reach was present!

Thanks to everyone who followed along during this marketing campaign, thanks to KowZ and theBruce for extra info, GameShark for the videos, and of course, Xbox Canada and their marketing partners for putting it altogether!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mass Effect: Retribution Review

Set shortly after the events of Mass Effect 2, the latest novel, Mass Effect: Retribution, continues the story of Sanders and Grayson; the two main characters from the Mass Effect: Ascension.

The Collectors have been defeated at the hands of Commander Shepard, and Cerberus has obtained some valuable Reaper-based technology. The Illusive Man, always prepared to make sacrifices for the "greater good," knows that the Reapers are coming and the galaxy is unprepared for them. Studies must be done and knowledge must be gained to know thy enemy, and with this in mind, he plans to continue the Collector's experiments on a select group of humans, beginning with Grayson.

Two years ago, Paul Grayson betrayed Cerberus to save his daughter, and he now lives on Omega under an assumed name working for Aria T'Loak, the infamous Pirate Queen. The Illusive Man never forgets a betrayal and is patient, very patient, in balancing his books, and he sees in Grayson an opportunity for both revenge and a means to test this new technology on one deemed "expendable." The trick is he needs to find Grayson first.

Enter a new Cerberus agent, Kai Leng, an assassin of unparalleled skill, who is tasked with tracking down and abducting Grayson. Unknown to the Illusive Man, however, is that Grayson has kept in touch with Kahlee Sanders, a key Alliance rep working on the Ascension Project, and someone who was instrumental in saving Grayson's daughter. When Grayson goes missing, Sanders turns to Admiral David Anderson for assistance to track him down, and to try and deal a strong blow to Cerberus.

Like the novels before it, Mass Effect: Retribution greatly expands upon the lore of the Mass Effect universe, and key events unfold that will undoubtedly have a strong impact on Mass Effect 3. Author Drew Karpyshyn is careful to tiptoe around the events of the games themselves, allowing players to experience the Mass Effect story in their own way, but some things are unavoidable.

While it was not revealed which choice Shepard made to stop the Collectors, or which crew members of the Normandy lived or died, it is shown that Udina is a member of what appears to be a new Council and that Anderson is his adviser. So sadly, if you completed Mass Effect with the Council surviving or appointed Anderson to the Council, it looks like your Mass Effect story is not canon. While understandable that some concessions such as these need to be made to tell a more rigid story such as novels present, it is regrettable because it really does cast into light that there is an official story to the universe and yours might be incorrect, though no less enjoyable.

In Mass Effect: Retribution, we learn a great deal more about the Cerberus organization and the Illusive Man's base of operations. More is revealed about Aria and Omega, and Admirial Anderson will never be the same again. I'm quite interested to see how he'll be represented in Mass Effect 3 and what position the Alliance will be in. We also learn a great deal more about the Reaper's means of turning someone into one of their agents. Not a mindless Husk, mind you, but an actual thinking, agile operative akin to Saren himself. Very fascinating.

Mass Effect: Retribution is an excellent novel to further the lore of the universe. While not essential reading, as I'm sure it'll be summarized in the next game like the previous two novels were, reading through this book will no doubt help provide you with greater clarity of what you've already experienced and perhaps even give you hints of what's to come. It is very tied into the games themselves, an extension of the main narrative, and the book deals with key characters and situations in such a way that they must be reflected in Mass Effect 3, and I don't just mean a casual mention or a journal entry.

Its integration with the main story that really helps to elevate the Mass Effect novels over other game related fiction and why any true fan of the franchise will pour over them again and again.

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty Trial Impressions

In March 1998, one of the single greatest real time strategy games ever developed was released, and it's a fairly safe bet to say that I have thousands of Starcraft games under my belt; both Campaign, custom, and over I played it and its expansion to death, and I've been anxiously awaiting the sequel.

And waiting. And waiting. And waiting some more. A little over 12 years after the release of the original, it's finally here, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. The catch is that a lot has changed in the last decade; the gaming industry has matured and the original audience for Starcraft has grown up.

For my own part, I switched platforms from PC to console gaming about 6 years ago, so I don't exactly have a top of the line gaming rig any longer. With that in mind, and the fact that I have a lengthy backlog on my Xbox 360 to tend to, I decided to give StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty a pass for now. Sorry Blizzard Entertainment, but you spent too long milking World of Warcraft, and I found other things to do while waiting for my quality RTS fix.

Well, a buddy of mine purchased the game, and it comes with two Trial passes, one of which he gave to me, so I figured what the hell, might as well. I went about creating my ID, activated my trial code, and downloaded the 7 GB file to install the game and give her a whirl.

I'm going to say right off that the sequel certainly feels like Starcraft. The opening music and even menu style feels like a brushed up version of the original classic. The Trial is the full retail game, and you're able to play it for seven hours or up to two weeks, which ever comes first. The Campaign is Terran only, and of course there's custom games and online play via that allows you to play with all three Species.

I decided to give the Campaign's tutorials a whirl first, just to see if anything's changed, and of course the game crashed on me while loading those up. An error report filed to Blizzard Entertainment and a reboot later and they loaded properly. Nothing new in terms of basics from the original game and unit control, actions, and resource gathering is just like I remember it, so I fired up the Campaign itself.

The Campaign focuses on Jim Raynor, one of the lead Terran characters from the original. It's now 4 years after the end of Starcraft: Brood War and Raynor's back on Mar Sara, sort of fighting a revolution against Emperor Mengsk and the Terran Dominion. I say sort of because ol' Jimmy's gone from being Han Solo to a washed up Malcolm Reynolds, complete with corny western music that actually works real well.

I ended up playing through 7 Campaign missions before my trial expired, and thus far the story's been pretty cheesy, but the mission design was varied and very clever. The first few felt like most of the first missions from the original game (like the third mission, which had me holding out in bunkers against Swarms of Zerg waiting for extraction, just like 12 years ago), but after that they start to broaden the design a bit. There's one really cool mission where you need to clear out an infested colony, and during the day, you're safe, but once the map cycles to night the Infested Terrans start swarming and you need to switch to defence. Very cool.

As you progress new units and upgrades are made available as per standard, but now you have a base of operations between missions where Raynor can chat with other characters to expand the narrative and research or customize upgrades; a very cool addition for an RTS. You also have access to various units in the Campaign that aren't available in multiplayer or Custom Games.

I tinkered with some 2v2 and 1v1 against AI opponents, just to try the other Species and see how they've changed. The set up for Multiplayer is more or less the same, and I even played on Lost Temple, the map that will never die from Blizzard RTSes. Both Zerg and Protoss have seen some tech tree changes and new units added, and everyone starts with two Vespene Geysers in their bases, but the overall feel is exactly the same as once was so many years ago. This is great because the game is instantly familiar, but in my opinion this is also bad because after 12 years, it feels that there's been a lack of innovation.

Graphically, the game looks pretty nice. It defaulted to Medium settings for me, and while I was able to tinker on High for a bit, my system is older now and I ultimately had to lower everything to Low just to run the game properly. With those settings, it actually looks a lot more like Starcraft did back in 1998, which carries a certain irony for me. While the sequel does look nice, I'm personally not a fan of the cartoony art style Blizzard has implemented. I consider the Starcraft universe to be dark and gritty, and the bright and cherry colour palette and exaggerated character models just takes away from that serious feel. The few cinematics I saw are, as in Blizzard Entertainment tradition, absolutely brilliant and spectacular to behold, so there's no lacking in production values for the game.

Audio wise the game is spot on. The Firefly western tunes work great, and a lot of the same dialogue and sound effects are reused, but sampled higher or re-recorded, of course. The voice aciting is reprized by many of the same actors, save for Infested Kerrigan and Zeratul, and the overall quality is your standard chessy RTS dialogue.

Once my trial period ended, I had thoroughly enjoyed my sampling of the Campaign, at least in mission design, and I would like to experience more. Custom games were alright, but left me with such a strong feeling of been-there-done-that that I have no huge desire to jump into competitive play over and try to relive my teenage years.

Right now, I've decided to still pass on picking the game up, though once my backlog is cleared and StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty sees a substantial price drop, I'll likely bite. The other catch is, to experience the Campaign, I don't need to buy the retail game, it seems.

With the trial version, after your period expires you can still play the Campaign with no restrictions at all so long as you sign in as a "Guest." I tried it, and while connectivity and Achievements are disabled it works perfectly, so I've added this to my back log and will eventually go through the Campaign for free unless I end up picking up the game first.

So my final impressions: For someone who's experienced the originals to death, there's no rush at all. I mean, I've waited 12 years, so what's another 6 months or so to play a prettier version of that which feels the same? If you missed out on Starcraft back in its glory days, however, I'd pick this one up now. It'll re-define your concept of what an RTS should be.

Update: It appears the 1.03 patch has corrected being able to play the full Campaign as a "Guest" past your trial period. Once your trial is up, you do need to purchase the game to continue playing the Campaign or to start a new Campaign.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

BioShock: Infinite Announced

Irrational Games is the brilliant studio behind such titles as System Shock 2 and BioShock, and earlier this week, they finally announced what mystery title they've been developing: BioShock: Infinite.

The third title in the franchise, BioShock: Infinite is a departure from Rapture and is set in 1912 on Columbia, a city floating in the clouds! You play as Booker DeWitt, an agent sent to find Elizabeth, a girl who's been imprisoned in the city since childhood.

Personally, I'm very interested to see how this will all tie in to the rest of the franchise, and what great twist Ken Levine will have waiting for us. You can check out the announcement trailer below.

The Lord of the Rings: War in the North Extended Fellowship Trailer

You know, I completely forgot this game was even in development! Here's a nice little trailer for The Lord of the Rings: War in the North, an upcoming RPG set during the War of the Ring, but in the north of Middle-earth.

You can also check out screenshots for the game right here.

Personally, I don't know why they don't follow Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic's example and make an RPG during the second age and the War of the Last Alliance. They'd have so much more creative freedom.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Halo: Reach Three New Multiplayer Maps Revealed

In this week's Weekly Update, Bungie not only revealed that Halo: Reach has gone Gold, but they're also showcasing three new Multiplayer maps: Zealot (not a Midship remake!), Reflection (an Ivory Tower remake that's been "Asianed Up"), and Spire (a new Invasion map).

You can check out the update for some juicy info and screenshots here, and you can check out some actual gameplay footage courtesy of IGN below!

Yes, yes, I know, you're all kinds of excited. And you should be!

The Weekly Update doesn't end there in its new info of awesomeness, it also goes on to show us the different classes of Elites that you'll be able to play as and how all their armour looks. While having far less permutations than the Spartan-III's will, they just look all kinds of bad ass, and rightly so.

Of course, they're available in fewer game types since Spartan-III's and Elites now play differently, so you'll be seeing these bad boys less than you would have in previous games.

Go check out the Weekly Update right now if you haven't already! September 14th can't come fast enough!

Halo 2600

The Halo franchise is one that appeals to all generations of gamers, but for those of you who've been gaming as long as I have, have you ever wondered what Halo would have been like on the Atari 2600? Well now you can find out with Halo 2600!

Available to play for free, Ed Fries, former vice president of game publishing for Microsoft, crafted this novelty over the last few years and has posted it for all to enjoy.

Use your keyboard's directional arrows to move the Spartan around, and press "Space" to fire, but you need to find a weapon first! Just touch an item to pick it up, such as your Pistol, the key (unlocks the energy field blocking the exit), and Shields (allows you to take an extra hit, doesn't appear to stack).

You can jump right into the game here. Prepare to spend a few hours in retro-goodness!

Halo: The Fall of Reach Republished and Rereleased!

Straight from the Tor Books press release, Halo: The Fall of Reach has been republished with additional content and is in stores now! If you missed out on its first publication nearly a decade ago, I urge you to pick up this updated copy, as Halo: The Fall of Reach is an excellent military sci-fi read.

Not only does it provide wonderful backstory to the upcoming game, Halo: Reach, but it also shows the origins of the Spartan-II program and how John-117 came to be the solider humanity needed him to be.

Check out the full release below.

Tor Books announces the definitive edition of the first ever HALO novel on-sale!



A newly edited edition of Eric Nylund’s first Halo novel, including 27 pages of new material!

New York, NY – August 3, 2010 - Tor Books, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC—the largest publisher of science fiction in the world is pleased to announce the first of the newly revised editions of the original three novels in the New York Times bestselling Halo® series. These definitive editions include all-new original content expanding upon the universe created in the hugely successful Halo videogame franchise for the Xbox and Xbox 360. The first novel, HALO: THE FALL OF REACH by Eric Nylund, went on-sale today, and is now available for the first time in trade paperback.

HALO: THE FALL OF REACH, originally published in 2001, is the first Halo novel. It tells the origin story of John 117, the Master Chief, Halo's iconic hero and takes readers from his childhood to his rise to the top of the Spartan-II program, where his legend will be solidified. It’s one the most beloved stories in Halo fiction and it takes us deep into the history and significance of the planet Reach, a place Halo fans will be exploring in full when the new game releases next month. The new Tor trade paperback edition will serve as the definitive version of the novel that started Halo fans reading the series, and features brand-new material, including:

  • Excerpts of Office of Naval Intelligence interrogations of the Covenant.
  • Missives and mandates issued by the Covenant
  • Declassified transmissions regarding the defense of Reach
  • A personal insight into the Spartan program
  • The Official Evacuation Order for all inhabitants of Reach.
  • Five sketches of cover art by 343 Industries artist, Robogabo.

“The release of the new game, Halo: Reach, takes fans back to a crucial place in Halo lore,” says Eric Raab, Tor Editor. “It’s such great timing to be able to share this definitive edition of the novel that helped launch Halo as one of the great science fiction novel series of the new millennium. If you’ve never read a Halo novel, this is a great place to start.”

“The story of Halo is the story of the Spartans,” says Frank O’Connor, Franchise Development Director for 343 Industries. “In the games and the novels we constantly come back to the power of these super-soldiers, but a lot of Halo fans don’t know how dark the origin of the Spartan program really is. The Fall of Reach tells the story of how heroes can rise from very un-heroic circumstances and how a few scared kids can go on to change the course of a war.”

To follow, Tor will release new trade paperback editions of both William C. Dietz’s Halo: The Flood (new release date: September 28, 2010) and Eric Nylund’s second Halo novel, Halo: First Strike (December 7, 2010). Tor will also publish the first in the new Halo Forerunners trilogy by science fiction icon Greg Bear around Holiday 2010, and 2011 will take Halo fans into the post-Halo 3 universe with the first in a new series of novels by #1 NYT bestselling novelist Karen Traviss.

The Halo franchise is an award-winning collection of properties that have grown into a global entertainment phenomenon. Beginning with the original “Halo: Combat Evolved” for Xbox in 2001, the rich fiction of the franchise has since inspired a series of blockbuster Xbox and Xbox 360 video games, New York Times best-selling novels, comic books, anime, action figures, apparel and more. To date, sales in the Halo franchise have eclipsed $1.9 billion. The newest game in the franchise, the highly-anticipated prequel to the award-winning Halo trilogy, “Halo: Reach,” is due out in the fall. With a fully fleshed-out universe of heroes, villains and epic scenarios, the novels expand the universe to give fans a grander view of the game environments and characters they encounter.

About Tor Books

Tor Books, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, is a New York-based publisher of hardcover and softcover books, founded in 1980 and committed (although not limited) to SF and fantasy literature. Between an extensive hardcover and trade-softcover line, an Orb backlist program, and a stronghold in mass-market paperback, Tor annually publishes what is arguably the largest and most diverse line of science fiction and fantasy ever produced by a single English-language publisher. Books from Tor have won every major award in the SF and fantasy fields, and for the last twenty-two years in a row the company has been named Best Publisher in the Locus Poll, the largest consumer poll in SF.

Batman: Arkham City Revealed

The sequel to the hugely successful Batman: Arkham Asylum has finally had its official name released and site launched. Coming Fall 2011, Batman returns to combat Gotham's worst in Batman: Arkham City.

Looks like Catwoman's in, and the word is Two-Face will be featured as well.

The new site itself however doesn't have much new info, well, it doesn't have any real new info at all save for the release window, but who cares! If the sequel is half the game the original was, it'll still be better than most other games released in the history of history.

Carmine's Very Bad Day

In support of The Fate of Carmine campaign for Gears of War 3, X-Play has created a great little video to support the cause. You can check it out below, and don't forget that you need to purchase an Avatar t-shirt to vote. All proceeds are donated to charity, so it's a good cause and well worth the small cost.

BioShock 2: Minerva's Den Announced

The final DLC for BioShock 2 has been announced. Entitled "Minerva's Den," the DLC is single player only and is set in Rapture's Central Computing, a previously unexplored area of the underwater city.

Players take on the role of a new Big Daddy, and they'll encounter new weapons, a new Plasmid, new enemy Splicers, and an all new Big Daddy to fight.

No cost or release date has been announced yet, but Fall 2010 is a solid bet. Full details can be found at The Cult of Rapture here.

Fable III Opening Cinematic and Custom Villager Maker

Lionhead Studios has released the opening cinematic for their upcoming action RPG, Fable III. You can view it here or below.

Say what you will about the franchise, it definitely has one hell of a great sense of humour!

Lionhead Studios has also launched a custom villager maker here. Not only can you enjoy creating your own goofy resident of Albion, but if you pre-order the game you'll receive a token that actually allows you to import your creation into the retail game!

That's a very cool and innovative new feature!

Mass Effect 2 Firepower Pack Now Available

Earlier this week, BioWare and EA released their latest little DLC add-on for Mass Effect 2. This one is entitled the "Firepower Pack," and it features three new super weapons:

- The Phalanx Heavy Pistol
- The Mattock Heavy Rifle
- The Geth Plasma Shotgun

The Firepower Pack will run you 160 Microsoft Points or BioWare Points, and like the other little weapon and armour DLC packs, is 100% not worth the cost in my opinion.