Sunday, May 30, 2010

Another One Bites the Dust

But in a whole new way! I've been gaming on an Xbox 360 Pro console since December 2006, and just after noon today I received my very first three flashing red lights.

I was playing BioShock 2 and had just finished protecting a Little Sister as she gathered some Adam, and when I pressed "X" to pick her up, my console froze on me. A reboot brought about the three flashing red lights.

I then went online and used the trouble shooting tool here, and reconnecting the power supply resolved the three flashing red lights however about every 10 minutes or so my console would freeze, be it in BioShock 2 or simply at the Xbox 360 Dashboard itself. I then used the screen freezing trouble shooting tool here and cleared my System Cache and removed my HDD, but still no luck.

Now, my three year general hardware failure warranty is over, so that means I need to pay for a repair or buy a new console, so before making that decision I wanted to confirm the repair cost and contacted Xbox Support.

The rep was from the US, and he was very polite and courteous. I told him the issues I was having and the steps I already attempted, and aside from being impressed with how thorough I'd already been, he asked me to try a different game to see if that would freeze as well. So I popped in Halo 3: ODST and went to load up a game of Firefight and right as the match started and I left that first door, bam, she froze on me again. He asked me to reboot the console and once again, three flashing red lights.

Now the interesting thing is his records show that my console's three year general hardware failure warranty expires on June 1st, just over a day from now, so I lucked out big time and I'm still covered under warranty. I'm now waiting for my return label to be emailed to me, and I need to snag a box to ship the console out in.

So, I'll be Xbox 360-less for about two to three weeks, but thus far this repair process has gone great. I am toying with the idea of buying a new Xbox 360 Arcade console, as that way I'll have a full warranty, newer hardware, and an HDMI port, and I can also sell some peripherals to recoup a little cost.

This has been my first service order process in about two years, so I'll keep you all up-to-date on how things are going.

Update: Received my email with the label a few hours ago, so I need to print that off but I won't have time to hit a UPS Store until Saturday, so I've got a week.

I did decide to purchase a new Xbox 360 Arcade console, however, and I'll be setting that up shortly. Odds are good the replacement console Xbox Support sends me will be similar to mine, manufactured around May 2006, and I figure I'll be better off with new hardware. I'll likely set up the replacement console at my folks' place when it arrives.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Halo: Reach Launch Date Revealed

On September 14th (September 15th in Japan), Halo: Reach will launch exclusively on the Xbox 360. For those of you in North America who pick the game up on launch day (like I plan to), you'll receive a special token to download an in-game exclusive Spartan Recon Helmet. For those of you outside of North America, you can get the token by pre-ordering the game at participating retailers.

In addition to the release date announcement, Bungie has also revealed that more than 2.7 million people played in the recent Halo: Reach beta, making this the most successful console beta in history.

You can check out the full details on the release date and beta numbers right over here, and for our own hands on experience with the Halo: Reach beta, head on over here and here.

DOOM II (Xbox 360) Trial Impressions

I knew that Nerve Software has been working on a port of DOOM II for Xbox LIVE Arcade since last summer, however details have been few and far between. So surprise, surprise when the game was actually released this past Wednesday! Of course, I immediately downloaded the Trial version and fired it up to see what, if anything has changed with this legendary classic.

The Trial version includes two levels to play, the opening level from DOOM II, and the opening level of the new Xbox 360 exclusive bonus chapter, "No Rest for the Living." I loaded up the new level first and immediately started running around kicking ass. Regrettably, there are no graphical upgrades on offer, it's the same pixelated sprites from 1994, but then again this is DOOM II, we're talking about and that hardly matters.

Running around the new level, which was rather large, reminded me just how much I love the franchise and simply how much fun DOOM II was. True to its basic roots, you can look left and right but not up and down (bullets auto aim for you), there's no jumping, crouching, and you run really, really fast. DOOM II is just as intense and bloody as I remember, and I simply love it!

Once I finished the new level, I loaded up the original DOOM II level and blew through that fairly quickly since I've already played through it about a billion times. The only thing that's really stopped me from buying the game outright, which sells for 800 Microsoft Points, is that I already own it on another platform.

Sure, there's Achievements, a couple of Avatar awards, 9 new levels, and Xbox LIVE multiplayer, but at its core it is the exact same game. Still, that didn't stop me from buying the original a few years back and I am very, very tempted.

If I don't cave by the time it ultimately drops to 400 Microsoft Points (like two years from year), I'll likely pick this up and enjoy a nice taste of nostalgia once again.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II Official Site Updated

The official site for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II has been updated with some new details, and you can check it all out here.

Well, looks like Starkiller is cloned after all, and seeing how he dies at the end of the original game (with the canonical ending anyway) and cloning is a huge part of Star Wars, I guess this makes sense. It appears that Vader has cloned him to try and create the ultimate Sith warrior, but "Subject 1157," Starkiller's clone's ID, has a different idea. He's gone off in pursuit of his true love, Juno Eclipse, and Vader is in turn hunting him.

Starkiller will be able to wield dual lightsabres this time around, and the game will feature an improved targeting system.

Click on "Subject 1157" on the site's menu to access a "cloning tank" here to play a few little mini-games that unlock some summary videos from the first game.

Gears of War 2 Title Update 6 Released, Map Pack Price Reductions

Earlier this week, Epic Games released the 6th Title Update for Gears of War 2. The biggest additions with this Title Update are the inclusion of Social Xbox LIVE Matches (All DLC required) plus the ability to join Horde matches in-progress. For a full list of changes and bug fixes, check out the official posting here.

Social matchmaking, huh. Better late than never, I guess. And since it requires that you have all the Gears of War 2 map packs, Microsoft Game Studios and Epic Games has slashed the cost of all of them! The Gears of War 2: All Fronts collection, which contains all the Gears of War 2 map packs as well as a deleted Campaign Chapter, is now available for 800 Microsoft Points. The "Flashback," "Combustible," and "Snowblind" map packs are now 400 Microsoft Points, and the "Dark Corners" map pack is now 560 Microsoft Points.

For the full details on the price drops, check out the official post here.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Halo: Reach Beta Impressions

The much anticipated Halo: Reach multiplayer beta has come and gone, and I'm quite happy to report that my original positive impressions from the Halo: Reach beta preview I attended have not only remained intact, but have been largely improved. Very little changed from the preview to the beta itself, so I won't rehash anything I wrote there, and will instead focus this article on the new content I experienced.

When all is said and done, due to my busy schedule, I only had time to play 31 games of the Halo: Reach beta, reaching the rank of Corporal Grade 1, and while that's not a huge amount of playtime, it certainly allowed me to sample what was on offer and leave me wanting more.

I love Invasion. Simply put, this has to be my favourite versus objective gametype ever. Invasion took place on the map called Boneyard, a large ship building facility on Reach, and it featured twelve players. Six Elites are invading attempting to steal a data core which will reveal the location to Earth, six Spartan-IIIs try to stop them. Even better is that Invasion is far more complex than a simple Spartan vs. Elite concept.

The map is broken up into sections, and the Elites need to capture and hold one of two specific areas long enough on the first part of the map to unlock the second. Once complete, not only does the additional part of the map open up, but better Loadouts are made available upon respawning and basic vehicles enter play. Next, the Elites need to capture and hold one of two other points to unlock the core itself, and once completed additional Loadouts and vehicles become available. The final phase sees the Elites trying to extract the core itself to a waiting Phantom. The Elite carrying the data core moves like he's carrying a turret, save that he can't attack, so his teammates must protect him. The Spartan-IIIs, on the other hand, need to prevent the Elites from unlocking each phase to win early, or prevent them from extracting that core before the timer runs out. If the Spartan-IIIs win, some Shortsword bombers fly by bombing the snot out of the surviving Elites.

The sheer size of Boneyard, plus the different Loadouts, vehicles, and the differences between the Spartan-IIIs and the Elites themselves, really helped to vary the gameplay and keep things exciting. Elites really do move faster and they are tougher, so you do need to be more crafty as a Spartan-III to defend, survive, and take them down.

A variant to Invasion that cropped up towards the beta's end was Invasion Slayer, which I played a few times. In it, the goal is no longer to extract the data core or unlock additional areas, it's to reach 100 kills before the timer runs out and to control random spawning territories for vehicle reinforcements. The Warthog, Ghost, Wraith, Scorpion, and Banshee all make appearances in both Invasion game types and they handle like you remember from previous offerings.

Another really fun game type that came out near the end of the beta's run is Network Test 1 (Generator Defence). Here, the map is called Standoff and it's a nice little farm-like setting. There are three generators set up around the map, two outside, one inside, and three Elites are trying to destroy them while three Spartan-IIIs try to defend them. As a Spartan-III, you can touch and lock down a generator making it invulnerable for several seconds, and you can repeat the process after a cooldown period. Strategic use of this lockdown feature will win you rounds and cause your Elite adversaries a whole world of frustration. Heavy weapons like the Spartan Laser and Rocket Launcher also drop in at the beginning of the round, allowing either side who can claim them to have an advantage.

The purpose of Network Test 1 was, coincidentally enough, to test something on the network, so there was a lot more lag and other issues here and there than the other gametypes, but it was still enjoyable. Once the round was done, win or loose, the next and final round begins where you switch sides, allowing both teams to play as Spartan-IIIs and Elites. At present this gametype will not be in the retail version of the game, though if enough people request it Bungie has said they may put it in so make sure to let them know!

The only additional classic gametype I played which I didn't experience in the preview was Juggernaut, and I personally didn't like it at all. The Juggernaut now spawns with a Gravity Hammer, making him truly, well, a Juggernaut, but I found it more frustrating than fun to take him down, and this is a gametype I stopped voting for after my first go-around.

Due to the crazy damage caused by Frag Grenades, I can certainly tell you that I didn't miss dual wielding, as in Halo: Reach, you want to be tossing Grenades everywhere! Bungie has said that Grenades will be tweaked for the retail release, so we'll see how their effectiveness changes this fall. I did gain a new appreciation for the Needle Rifle, however, and found I began to prefer it over the DMR, and I also found the Needler quite useful, particularly coupled with Active Camo in a Loadout.

Another interesting change to a classic weapon is the Energy Sword. Now, if an opponent lunges at you with the Energy Sword and you Melee right at the point of contact, you block the blow, giving you one last chance to try and save yourself. Realistically blocking the Energy Sword with anything other than another Energy Sword should destroy your weapon, but canon aside this makes for an interesting gameplay mechanic and can present a nice surprise to the Sword wielder expecting a quick kill.

I also tinkered with the new Assassinations during the beta. In Halo: Reach, if you melee your opponent while they still have any Shields left, you drop their Shields but no damage carries over to your opponent's health, thus requiring a second Melee for the kill. That is, unless you use an Assassination. Get right behind your opponent and hold Melee, and no matter how much Shields or Health they have, you kill them with a great little animation, and you can even Assassinate in mid-air! Though Assassinations are quick, you are left vulnerable for a few seconds and if you're not careful, you will be killed or Assassinated yourself (watching an Assassination train was great for a laugh!).

By and large though, my biggest gripe with the Halo: Reach beta was the matchmaking process itself. Unlike previous games, you can now specify additional matchmaking options, such as the kind of communication level you like (Chatty or Quiet), the kind of game mentality you like (to Win or to have a good time), etc., and while said options are certainly a very positive addition, they don't guarantee a match with someone with similar preferences, and of course, people can lie. You may specify that you like Polite people and still end up in a lobby full of jerks.

Overall though, these settings are a welcome addition and with a much larger player pool this Fall, we'll see how they work out, but regardless of what options I checked, I almost always found myself matched up against players who were far too skilled for me or quite under skilled, with both counts leading to less fun. Granted, I've experienced this with Xbox LIVE in general, as I've always found public matchmaking on Xbox LIVE to be an exercise in frustration compounded all the more by the fact that it's a paid service. I would really love to see a quality system put into place, something akin to what used for Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Close games, good players, and good fun and overall, Xbox LIVE lacks this outside of private matches.

Despite the universal matchmaking issues of the service itself, however, there's no question that Halo: Reach is doing a great job of not only pushing the envelope of what we're used to, but grounding it in a strong feel that is unmistakably Halo. With roughly three or four months until launch, it will be interesting to see what gets overhauled, what stays the same, and what gets added. We only got a taste of what Halo: Reach had to offer, and what we did see isn't even final.

I'm quite looking forward to the full game's launch this Fall.

Gears of War (Xbox 360) Completed for the 6th Time

Yesterday, a buddy of mine helped me finish off Gears of War in Co-Op so I could earn the "I Can't Quit You Dom" Achievement. A few years back, the Staff and I played through Co-Op on Insane up until halfway through Act III when I got so frustrated with the damn inferior Checkpoint save system, I had to stop.

So with my other buddy, we started up from where I left off and completed the rest of the Campaign Co-Op, though on Casual difficulty, and guess what? The Achievement didn't unlock!

So either you need to do so all on the same difficulty (though I heard you didn't), or my profile somehow forgot what I already played through as Dom.

Either way it's not a big deal, just frustrating is all. Been a while since I played Gears of War, and it's still the destroyed beauty it always was. This counts as the sixth time I've completed the Xbox 360 version's Campaign. Good times.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mass Effect 2 Title Update Released

Earlier this week, those clever folks at BioWare released a new Title Update for the Xbox 360 version of Mass Effect 2. Aside from the usual bug fixes, the major change this Title Update brings about is the "optimization" of scanning for minerals. So what exactly does that mean? From what I hear, it makes the process go a whole lot faster (finally)!

A PC version of the patch is due out soon, and you can find the full details right here.

Update: The scanning area is now _much_ larger, and scanning does go a whole lot faster. Loving it, and thank you BioWare! You just fixed one of my biggest gripes with Mass Effect 2!

Fable III: Limited Collector's Edition (Xbox 360) Announced, PC Version Confirmed

Coming this holiday, Fable III will not only be gracing the Xbox 360, but also the PC! The PC version will be available at retail and via digital download on Games for Windows Live, and the Xbox 360 version will not only be available in traditional retail form, but also as a Limited Collector's Edition. The contents of the Collector's Edition include:

- A new Quest
- An exclusive location
- A deck of playing cards
- A Guild Seal coin
- A new dog breed
- A unique male and female outfit

The downloadable content will also be available to PC users somehow.

For full details, check out the official release right here.

Original Halo Trilogy of Novels to be Reissued

Earlier this week, I received a press release from Tor Books announcing that they'll be reissuing the original Halo trilogy of novels, originally published by Del Rey nearly a decade ago. The reissues won't just be rehashes of what came before, however. In addition to updated artwork, there will also be updates and all new original content!

You can check out the official release below, and the new cover for Halo: The Fall of Reach, which will be reissued this August!

Tor Books announces enhanced re-issues of the original Halo novel trilogy




Reissue of first three Halo novels to be updated with new content, edits, covers, art!

New York, NY - May 19, 2010 - Tor Books, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC—the largest publisher of science fiction in the world— is pleased to announce the reissue of the first three original novels in the New York Times bestselling Halo® series, now presented as definitive editions with updates and all-new original content to expand 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, will be available in August 2010, setting the stage for the launch of the new game “Halo: Reach” coming this fall. Previous Halo novels published by Tor have sold over a million combined copies to date, and in 2010 Tor will also publish the first in a new Halo trilogy by science fiction icon Greg Bear, giving readers and gamers the first look at the Halo universe during the time of the Forerunners.

HALO: THE FALL OF REACH is the original Halo novel first published in 2001. It tells the origin story of the Master Chief, Halo's iconic hero, from his childhood to his rise to the top of the Spartan-II program, where his legend will be solidified. This trade paperback edition will serve as the definitive version of the novel that started Halo fans reading the series.

HALO: THE FLOOD, by William C. Dietz, was originally published in early 2003. A dramatic novelization of the events occurring in the very first Halo game, the award-winning “Halo: Combat Evolved,” it continues the storyline established in the first book and expands upon the relationship between the Master Chief and his companion AI, Cortana.

HALO: FIRST STRIKE, by Eric Nylund, was originally published in late 2003. Its story bridges the crucial events between the first Halo game, “Halo: Combat Evolved,” and its sequel “Halo 2.”

“These novels were the foundation for what has become one of the greatest and most vastly read science fiction novel series of the new century,” says Eric Raab, Tor Editor. “The great part about the HALO novels has always been they exist as wonderful storytelling whether you play the games or not.”

Together, this trilogy of novels illuminates critical back-story and along with the other novels in the series helps set the stage for one of the most-anticipated videogame launches in history, “Halo: Reach,” scheduled for release in Fall 2010. Each of the new editions will contain new material, including art and a series of short artifacts and stories that provide fascinating new detail for each novel and shed light on some of the greatest mysteries of the Halo universe.

“Reach is one of the foundational pieces of extended Halo fiction and a wellspring from which so many incredible characters and scenarios flowed. It’s gratifying and exciting to revisit old friends, old enemies and old scores,” said Frank O’Connor, Franchise Director at 343 Industries. “We’re thrilled to partner with Tor for this reissue and give both collectors and new readers alike, compelling reasons to revisit or explore this pivotal world.”

The Halo franchise is an award-winning collection of experiences 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 $1.7 billion. The newest game in the franchise, the highly-anticipated blockbuster 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-one years in a row the company has been named Best Publisher in the Locus Poll, the largest consumer poll in SF.

So by updates, I wonder if they mean retcon as several points of the original novels have already been revised by the games themselves or other medium. For example, according to the original trilogy of novels, the Master Chief never fought an Elite until the battle for Reach itself! Sgt. Johnson was also immune to the Flood, and Brutes had rarely been encountered.

For those who missed out on this great trilogy before, you'll want to keep an eye on those store shelves come August!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mass Effect 2: Overlord DLC Revealed

Coming next month, BioWare has officially announced the next Mass Effect 2 DLC. Entitled "Overlord," the DLC will feature five new levels and two new Achievements as Commander Shepard races to stop a rogue VI from escaping from Cerberus, a VI that already has control of various Geth forces.

Mass Effect 2: Overlord will sell for 560 Microsoft Points ($8.12) or BioWare Points respectively, and you can check out some additional screenshots here.

I like the infected look on the Mechs and that one Geth, and I do hope the DLC is longer and more complex than what "Kasumi - Stolen Memory" apparently was (I'm waiting for a price drop on that one). So, does anyone remember when we were getting free content via the Cerberus Network? Seemed like a good idea at the time...

Fallout: New Vegas Collector's Edition Announced

Earlier this week, Bethesda Softworks announced the Fallout: New Vegas Collector's Edition. In addition to a copy of the game itself (naturally), the Collector's Edition includes:

- "Lukcy 7" Poker Chips
- A deck of cards
- The "Lucky 38" Platinum Chip
- The hardcover graphic novel entitled "All Roads"
- The making of Fallout: New Vegas DVD

The Collector's Edition will retail along with the standard game this Fall, and you can read the official press release along with further details here.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Fallout 3: Mothership Zeta (Xbox 360) Review

The last of the DLC released for Fallout 3 takes us in an interesting new direction, allowing players to rise far above the Capital Wasteland. Once the DLC is downloaded and installed, upon leaving Vault 101 players pick up an unintelligible radio transmission which begins the Quest entitled "Not of this World." Follow the signal and you'll come to the Alien Crash Site, a location I missed in my original playthrough of the retail game. The difference with the DLC installed? Once you approach the Crash Site, you're abducted by Aliens, and Fallout 3: Mothership Zeta begins proper!

Taking a departure from the more traditional Fallout 3-styled exploration offered in the previous DLC, Fallout 3: Point Lookout, Fallout 3: Mothership Zeta takes more of a nod from Fallout 3: Operation - Anchorage. The DLC is far more shooter-oriented and while there certainly is some decent exploration, the mothership is a fair sized game world, you're not free roaming like the franchise's norm.

Once beamed up to the mothership, you'll come to strapped to a chair with Aliens performing experiments on you. After a brief period, you black out and awaken in a holding cell stripped of all your gear. There, you meat the first of the DLC's NPCs, Somah, and you can work with her to begin your escape.

One thing I honestly felt that Fallout 3: Mothership Zeta did better than its predecessors is the NPC interaction. You might find that hard to believe seeing as how the series has been very consistent in its use of NPCs and has done so quite well, but the people you meet trapped aboard the mothership are not only interesting characters that I generally came to care for, but they're also quite useful and really do help you out. Once you and Somah escape, you quickly come across Sally, a trapped little girl who's been there since before the War. Once free, she can help guide you through various parts of the ship, and she can also unlock doors for you. While this isn't a character trait you can call upon on demand, it happens at scripted points, the DLC is structured in such a way that it feels like she is helping you and has a greater purpose than just tagging along.

As you progress further through the different areas of the ship, you learn that the aliens have been visiting Earth for some time and that many of their abductees are held in cryo. Some prisoners, like Somah, are recently arrived, and others go all the way back to the wild west or earlier! This makes for some rather interesting relations not only in the dialogue you'll get to engage in, but also with the idle conversations between NPCs themselves.

The enemies you combat generally get repetitive very quickly. You basically have Aliens, and a few different kinds of Drones (robots) who try to thwart your advance using a variety of new weapons that you can equip and use against them as well. From simple Shock Batons to more powerful Alien Disintegrators, the weapons are fun to use, but I honestly barely touched them. You see, you get your gear back very early on in the DLC, which means I almost immediately had my powerful armour and weapons, and unlike Fallout 3: Point Lookout, the standard enemies aren't unrealistic behemoths who test your patience, the Aliens are actually fairly easy to defeat. So while the DLC isn't very challenging, it is fun but I feel it would have benefited from returning my gear at the very end, forcing me to rely far more on the scavenged alien items I kept coming across. Why use an Alien Disintegrator when I can simply get a one hit kill with my Gauss Rifle? On occasion you will come across more powerful enemies, such as Abominations or even Super Mutants and Ghouls held in Cryo, but still, unless you're heading into Fallout 3: Mothership Zeta with a new character, your existing gear will likely be more than enough.

In terms of items, as exploration is light, you can come across Small and Large Alien Crystals which can be sold for a fair amount of Caps back in the Capital Wasteland, and you can also come across some Alien Food that restores a bit of health. Alien Biogel, or later on, Adapted Biogel restores even more health, and the best new item you can find is Alien Epoxy. Use this and the weapon you're currently holding will immediately be repaired to full condition. Very, very handy. You can also find a lot more Alien Power Cells, and combined with the Alien Epoxy, this will greatly increase the life of your Alien Blaster if you already recovered it from the Crash Site.

You'll also come across various Alien Captive Recorded Logs in terminals scattered all over the mothership. Through them you can slowly piece together what the Aliens have been doing, and finding them all will net you one of the DLC's four Achievements. These Recordings actually help to bring a light survival horror element to the DLC, but be warned however that some areas of the mothership will be blocked off to you as you progress, so if you miss a Recording, you may be forced to play the DLC again to earn this Achievement. Thankfully, I found the Recordings easy to spot, and only needed assistance finding one of them.

Visually the DLC looks just like Fallout 3 always has, though of course the Alien ship itself uses new textures. The character models are all detailed and well done, and some of the more panoramic vistas you'll be treated to look very nice. Without giving too much away, you'll find yourself outside the ship at one point, and looking back at ruined Earth is very, very cool.

The DLC once again features no new music what-so-ever, which really is beginning to wear on me after having spent so many hours with Fallout 3, but the NPC voice acting is spot on as per usual, and the aliens certainly sound both interesting and hilarious.

I didn't perfectly time my playthrough of Fallout 3: Mothership Zeta, but I'm going to estimate that I clocked in between 8 to 10 hours since I really took my time looking around. For a very simple DLC offering, Fallout 3: Mothership Zeta was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the characters and the different setting offered to us, and certainly had no issue with the play time. The DLC could have had a little more enemy variety and could have been a bit more challenging, but these are minor quibbles for something that provided me with some really solid entertainment.

Of the four DLC add-ons that I've played thus far, Fallout 3: Mothership Zeta is the second that I would say is worth the full cost of admission. There is enough here that's different from what's come before to warrant the cost, yet it still feels unmistakeably like Fallout 3.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Mass Effect 2: Equalizer Pack Released

EA and BioWare have released another silly little premium DLC pack for Mass Effect 2, this one entitled the "Equalizer Pack." It includes three new pieces of armour: the Capacitor Helmet, the Archon Visor, and the Inferno Armour.

Full details can be found here, and the Equalizer Pack sells for 160 Microsoft Points or 160 BioWare Points.

Fallout: New Vegas Screenshots

Bethesda Softworks has released a few new screenshots for their upcoming sequel, Fallout: New Vegas, which you can find on the Art page right here.

Love the New California Republic flag in the one shot.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II Release Date Announced

The official Facebook page for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II has revealed the game's official release date. Prepare to once again unleash the Force on October 26th, 2010.

Though it certainly wasn't perfect, I did greatly enjoy the original game (reviewed here) and hope the sequel is more refined and has an even darker storyline.

I'll be keeping my eye on this one as more news develops.

Nuclear Launch Detected - StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty Release Date Announced!

Mark your calendars kids: On July 27th, 2010 the sequel to one of the most successful and influential video games of all time finally hits shelves. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty will launch on the PC and Mac at retail stores worldwide, which will also see the relaunch of, one of the world's premiere online gaming services.

And unlike some other services, playing on is free, the way multiplayer gaming should be.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Batman: Arkham Asylum Third Playthrough Complete

Was in the mood to beat the snot out of stuff, so I fired up Batman: Arkham Asylum early last week and motored my way through it.

Played through on Hard once again, and I'm still in awe over how great the game is and how strong the Freeflow combat system is. Poison Ivy was harder than I remembered, however, and I had a real rough time tonight with the penultimate battle; taking about 15 tries and a whole lot of cursing to beat it. Bane was very simple this go around though, which was in stark contrast to my last playthrough.

Great atmosphere, beautifully written story, and quite simply the best comic book video game I've ever played. I believe you can pick up the game new for about $40.00 now, and I highly recommend it.

This completes my third playthrough of the game, second time on Hard. Now if only I were better at the Challenge Rooms...

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Dead Space 2 Reveal Trailer

The reveal trailer for Dead Space 2 has been released, and you can check it out below.

Curious to see how the Marker plays into this one, and if they stick to Isaac Clarke being a simple engineer in a survival horror setting or really action it up (I'd much prefer the former).

Halo: Reach "Birth of a Spartan" Extended Live Action Short

Earlier this week, the live action short "Birth of a Spartan" aired on TV, and an extended (and much cooler) version is now available. You can check it out below, or download it via the Xbox LIVE Marketplace here.

The Halo: Reach Multiplayer beta officially goes live in less than two days.