Saturday, November 27, 2010

Halo: Reach Noble Map Pack Quick Looks

The Noble Map Pack, the first DLC for Halo: Reach, launches this coming Tues. Nov. 30th and Bungie has released a Quick Look video for each of the three maps.

You can check the videos out on Bungie's official site here or below.

Forums Removed

So kids, I wasn't able to get Delay of Game integrated in the way I was hoping and was ultimately unsatisfied with its look here on Arbiter's Judgement, so I've decided to remove the forums from the site for now.

I might bring them back at a later date, but until then, please visit Delay of Game the old fashioned way (by clicking this super awesome fun happy link), and participate in a great online community of like minded gamers!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Halo Shutting Down

This is some very sad news: on Dec. 15th, Halo will be shutting down. What does this mean for us, the gamers? The official message boards will be gone for one, but more importantly, the game will no longer feature any stat-tracking what-so-ever. I suppose this means win percentage won't mean spit anymore, but really, without stat-tracking the game will likely die pretty fast.

Halo Wars community members are encouraged to sign up at the Halo Waypoint forums and post there, but no alternative will be offered for the lack of stat tracking.

Multiplayer will still exist at least (and I'm assuming Leaderboards), and a 5th (and likely final) Title Update will be coming soon. It won't feature any balance changes, however, and instead will correct the Theatre bug that prevents players from selecting the last three cinematics from the Campaign, and it will also remove all references and links to Halo

This might actually be one of the first Title Updates to ever remove content from a retail game.

You can read the official announcement here (and find out how to get a special Avatar for the Halo Waypoint forums), and it might be best to start playing a lot of games now, because I really do think Halo Wars will fade away after the 15th of December.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II TV Commercials

And speaking of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, here's some cool TV Spots for your viewing pleasure. The second one was especially great.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II (Xbox 360) Demo Impressions

I'm sure you've all seen the lackluster reviews for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II by now, and it's partly because of these that I didn't bother to try the demo until today; a demo I downloaded as soon as it was available a month ago. Well, that and I've been busy grinding Daily Challenges in Halo: Reach, but I digress.

The demo for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II is set on Kamino, which is now under Imperial control. Seeing as how Starkiller died at the hands of the Emperor at the end of the first game, Vader has had him cloned. It looks like the Dark Lord wants his old apprentice, who was stronger in the Force than even he, to hunt down the Rebellion Starkiller created. There's just one problem: Starkiller's clone remembers far too much of his genetic predecessor's past, tarnishing his loyalty to Vader.

The demo focuses on Starkiller's escape from Kamino so he can go in pursuit of Juno Eclipse, the woman he loves, and now wielding dual Lightsabres, you get to hack and slash and actually dismember a host of Stormtroopers and other Imperials in your way.

For the demo itself, you're extremely powerful and a lot of your abilities are maxed out. The Controls are akin to those of the first game, save that once you learn how, pressing "Y" while Blocking will now execute a Mind Trick. I used it once and then presumed to Hack, Zap, and Graple my enemies into oblivion instead. Force Lighting still rips things up, you can charge up Force Push to knock back several enemies with devastating force (oh, the pun!), and of course you can combine various attacks to create combos. I'm not just talking about hacking and slashing with Force Lightning infused Lightsabres by "dialing" a combo, I mean you can Grip and enemy, zap them, and launch them at other enemies with explosive results. Good times, but all featured in the first game.

Graphically and audio speaking (Ha, another pun!), the demo was solid with fluidly animated character models, strong voice acting, and those nerdy trademark Star Wars sound effects we all get off on. Gameplay wise I didn't find anything lacking, but I didn't find anything inspiring either. It really did feel just like the first game, save that I started out stronger and I had a second Lightsabre to wave back and forth menacingly. Most of my old combat tricks still worked, the same run-around-zapping-and-tossing-stuff at the bigger enemies to wind them down worked, and there were some cool button mashing finishers, but there wasn't anything to wow or entice me like with the original game's demo.

Another thing I found amusing was the Holocrons. In the original game, you really had to hunt for these items which would bestow you with extra experience, Lightsabre Crystals, or Outfits. In the sequel's demo release, they were a lot like "Find Waldo Yet Again," really not trying anymore. The bloody things were right out in the open in completely unmissable spots! That's not necessarily a bad thing, but a little disappointing as hunting them down was a nice challenge.

I also had an odd little bug where at the end, when I approached the Imperial Shuttle, the game went to the loading screen, but without the spinning reticule. It just stood there forever, and I had to press "Start" and then I could select an option to "Skip," which brought me to a closing cut scene, so I'm not sure if I missed anything or not.

While I greatly enjoyed the original game and thought the critics were far too harsh on it (see my review here), based on my experience with the demo and the feedback I've heard not just from pro reviews but also from my fellow gamers, I can't see Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II as a must have title. As a rental or waiting for it to hit $19.99 in a bargain bin, that I could recommend.

We Have Forums! Sort Of...

Delay of Game, a forum I moderate, can now be linked to any site or blog, and I've added it to Arbiter's Judgement. So after 5 years, we finally have forums!

You can now find them in the side bar (as of this typing) under the Reviews index. Feel free to browse around, register, and post. It's a great forum with a great community!

I know its current integration doesn't look perfect just yet, but it'll get sexier as I move it around and toy with it, trust me. Especially if you drink a few beers first.

You can, of course, also check out Delay of Game directly by going here.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Xbox 360 Fall 2010 System Update Impressions

On Mon. Nov. 1st, 2010, the Fall System Update for the Xbox 360 was released via Xbox LIVE. Like so many System Updates before it (and not just limited to the Xbox 360 platform), it had a bumpy start on day 1.

The usual search of "The Update Bricked my Console" threads surfaced, whether legit, due to user-induced installation errors, or modded boxes going bye-bye, I don't know, and I'm not really referring to these.

On launch day, most Avatar Awards and downloaded Avatar items could not be selected/equipped, which I found odd since Microsoft is huge on marketing their cute little Mii wanna-bees. Halo Waypoint also kept encountering an internal error and wouldn't load beyond it's main menu, some Dashboard videos wouldn't play, and gamer's download histories wouldn't load.

Thankfully , most of these were fixed by Monday's end and Avatar's received an update when you went into the Editor on Wednesday evening, I believe.

One of the main focuses of the Fall Update was to add Kinect compatibility to all Xbox 360's, and since I don't own Kinect, I'm assuming this went off without any major hitches. The Dashboard was also aesthetically redesigned to a blander, simpler, more white style. There's less motion and graphics in the background now, which seems to have sped up load times of things like your Friend's List, and while I'm happy for such improved functionality I must confess I'm not a fan of the blinding white new menus. It's something I'll get used to, like the new sound effects, but I really wish it wasn't so bright.

Keeping in step with Microsoft's more family oriented outlook, when the update is complete a new, brief tutorial (pictured) starts up, which is great for newcomers to the console, but for veterans you'll just want to skip right past. The Welcome Channel will need to be disabled like it always does after every major System Update, and sadly, Microsoft still hasn't added the often requested My Xbox Channel as the default Channel option. One day perhaps, one day.

The Xbox LIVE Marketplace and Zune Marketplace respectively have seen a complete organizational overhaul, and this is a _huge_ improvement. The Zune Marketplace is so much easier to navigate and your own library is far better sorted, and you can actually see new items in the Xbox LIVE Marketplace in preview windows, increasing the speed of navigation there as well. I must confess, of all the changes brought about by the Fall Update this is my favourite and the most notable.

Voice communication is also supposed to have been improved, but I've been a hermit this last week and actually haven't voice chatted with anyone, but I hear people now sound like they're talking through a tin can and reactions have been mixed. I'll find out for myself soon enough, I suppose.

Long asked for, Netflix has not only come to Canada but finally to the Xbox 360. It's an "app" you need to install just like Facebook for the Xbox 360, and since I don't have a Netflix account and The Walking Dead is already available on Zune Marketplace, I simply haven't bothered.

When all is said and done, the 2010 Fall System Update is one that I find rather underwhelming, but in a good way. It certainly didn't wow me in any fashion, several core aspects have been greatly improved to my liking, but cosmetically the Dashboard now looks uglier to my eyes, so it's a trade off. Overall I suppose, not a bad update at all.

Mandatory for all those wanting to connect to Xbox LIVE, if you don't have this update already, you likely will soon.

Dead Space 2 "Ring Around the Rosie" Trailer

A new trailer has been released by EA for their upcoming horror shooter, Dead Space 2. I really like the atmosphere it creates, so give it a watch:

See more Game Videos at