Tag Archives: xbox

Will Kinect Kill the Wii?


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Someone asked if Microsoft’s Kinect will “kill” the Wii. I really hate that whole “kill” mentality.

In any case, I don’t think it will happen. I think that the Kinect will be a gateway drug of sorts – it will encourage people who never wanted an Xbox 360 to grab one. The Wii and the Kinect systems are so completely different, that many people will choose between them – or use both.

I don’t know if one technology will “trump” a second technology. Comparing the two of them really isn’t fair. They truly are different.

What do you think about the Kinect? Is it better than the Wii? Or, is that even a fair comparison to make? Should Microsoft encourage Kinect hacking? Inquiring minds wanna know.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Review


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Ali has had Call of Duty: Black Ops in his hot little hands for a while now. He was cool enough to create a screencast for all of you so that you can check out the game before deciding to buy it. This game is the seventh installment of the Call of Duty series. COD is a first-person shooter that has been wildly popular over the years.

The last game in the series has had a lot of haters, including videos of people snapping their discs. There was a lot of high hopes for Black Ops. People wanted a lot of changes, and Ali feels that many of these have been addressed.

Some of the game features include:

  • Wide array of play modes including single player, local multiplayer versus and online co-op and multiplayer
  • Seventh installment of the Call of Duty series, based on the live fire conflicts of the Cold War era
  • Diverse variety of play setting ranging from urban air and ground combat in SE Asia, to snow combat in Soviet region and jungle combat
  • Blending of traditional COD, and new first-person character scenarios designed to both retain the essence of the COD gaming experience and ensure constantly flowing and varied action
  • New arsenal of weapons and vehicles tied to the Cold War era, including the SR-71 Blackbird and sited explosive-tipped crossbows

Have you gotten your hands on the game yet? What are your thoughts so far?

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Windows Phone 7 Devices Hit the Streets Today in the U.S.

Mobile enthusiast and a garage developer Richard Mungeer was the first person to purchase a Windows Phone 7 device today in New York City’s Times Square AT&T Store. From what I’ve seen already, Microsoft is definitely back in the mobile game with this launch.

It’s worth noting that reports are circulating telling you that you can purchase one of these new devices on either Dell Mobility or Amazon Wireless for as low as $149.99 with a new two-year contract. That’s a dang good deal for phones which are going to be very big sellers.

Many of the articles we’re seeing come across the wire thus far this morning are giving high praise to these devices, and the operating system for which they were built, such as over on GearLive:

The home screen introduces you to the tiles that make up the main navigation, some of which are live tiles that update with information in realtime. The live tiles are great because they give glance-able information that let you take a quick gander at your device and get information without having to go into an app and back out.

The tiles can be removed, or rearranged however you’d like them to be. If you’ve used a Zune HD, then you will be familiar with the UI of Windows Phone 7. The phone, though, is far more customizable, with Microsoft wanting you to be able to personalize the phone and make it totally “yours.”

The general consensus so far is that Windows Phone 7 is definitely worth your time and money. “If you’re the corporate type, Windows Phone 7 will sync right up with Exchange, while also offering you a bunch of entertainment options that are built right in to the device in a way that no other mobile OS has captured yet.” This statement alone could sell quite a few large companies on making a switch to this operating system for all of their employees.

What are your thoughts? Have you actually used a Windows phone 7 device yet? Are you looking forward to getting your hands on one?

Are You Ready to Kinect?

This is a guest post written by long-time community member and friend Mike Parks – otherwise known as simply @BigRedPimp. You can also find him helping to “pimp” out his wife’s Eco-friendly Homemaker site. Mike has had a Kinect in his hot little hands for nearly three months now, and was gracious enough to give us his thoughts on the device thus far.

Video game controllers have come a long way since some of us were kids. We’ve gone from blocky, one-button joysticks that move a small, yellow circle around a maze to current iterations that have more buttons than we have fingers. Often times, we find ourselves wondering what’s next and hoping for a little more interaction with the games we play. Gamers want just a bit more immersion into worlds they choose to dedicate their spare time to.

In recent years, some companies have experimented with video-based or motion controls. Games using these technologies would allow the player to get involved through motions that either the controller or the camera would pick up and translate into movement. These often offered minimal enjoyment and, after the newness wore off, felt gimmicky at best.

Enter Kinect for Xbox 360. In order to hopefully offer something different, Microsoft has released a new style of gaming peripheral that uses camera-based game play and offers a totally new twist on anything we’ve seen before.

The Kinect is an attempt to get users off the couch and into the games they play. It offers a camera, microphone and a depth sensor that allows it to not only see and hear the players but determine their location in front of the TV. Kinect even allows for more than one person at a time to play which is great for getting families involved.

CAMERA

The camera in the Kinect is an RGB camera that captures video at [email protected] It offers an impressive image quality that is not only good for allowing games to capture detailed images but great for video chat using Video Kinect. It seems to lag behind slightly during Video Kinect sessions but that does not interfere with its processing during normal game activity. Overall, it’s a great camera for its purposes.

MICROPHONE

The microphone is a fairly standard multi-array microphone that is able to pick up a wide spectrum of sound. The sound quality is above average and great for voice communication via Video Kinect or even issuing voice commands to the Xbox 360. To get the attention of the Dashboard, you just say “Xbox” and it responds. You may have some issues with responsiveness of voice commands with certain accents and dialects but it still seems fairly accurate. The microphone is passable but far from horrible.

DEPTH SENSOR

Kinect uses a depth sensor to track a player’s location in the room. If you’re curious how it works, it basically bounces infrared light onto the play area and processes the brightness of a series of images into a sort of greyscale image. With this information, it’s able to figure out the shapes of things like your furniture as well as recognize facial & body movements. If you walk forward, your avatar moves forward. Act like you’re kicking a ball and your avatar will do the same. This is the best aspect of the product and does a fantastic job at what it does.

GAMES & SOFTWARE

Of course, the whole thing would be useless without the games. Kinect comes with a game called Kinect Adventures that has players kicking and punching dodgeballs at targets, navigating a raft down a river or even racing around an obstacle course. The game has a lot to offer players with 20 different game types to play as well as collecting trophies along the way to document your adventures.

Another game that flexes the muscle of Kinect is Kinect Sports. This game includes a few sports titles that really get you off the couch and involved in the game. One minute, you could be swearing off that last gutter ball in Bowling, hurling a javelin for distance in Track & Field or even scoring the game-winning header in Football (sorry, “Soccer” isn’t in my vocabulary).

You’re not stuck with having to buy all the software to use the Kinect either. There’s plenty of things to do within the Xbox Dashboard too. Currently, the ESPN, Last.fm and Zune applications as well as Video Kinect take advantage of certain aspects of Kinect. It has something to offer everyone, no matter the price.

OVERALL

The Kinect experience is definitely one that everyone should try at least once. The offerings as of this review range from sports, exercise & music titles with a few action games rounding out the mix. Kinect has a lot of potential to get families playing together. The core gamers shouldn’t feel left out either as there are plenty of titles both current and in the works to satisfy even the most hardcore gaming appetite. While it may not be a game-changer, it does well at enhancing the fun factor and leave players wanting more.

Fable 3 Review

Greg is a Fable fan – having played Fable I and Fable II. When I needed to find someone in my community who might be able to help review the new Fable III for Xbox 360, he was up for the task.

Instead of just looking at the game and offering a simple review, Greg played the ENTIRE game of Fable III before recording this video review. Unbelievable. That’s going above and beyond the Call of Duty. Er, I mean Fable III.

As stated in the video, Greg asserts:

I received the game less than 24 hours ago so I sped though this game at 100 mph. Keep that in mind as we go through this.

The game took me about 12 hours to get through – but don’t worry. As you’d expect with Fable, there are a ton of side missions to keep you busy for many more hours.

Fable 3 picks up at about 50 years where we left off from Fable 2. In fact, our character this time is the youngest of 2 sons of the Hero from Fable 2. Your older brother is currently King – and not doing a very good job at either. Like the other Fable stories, you need to save Albion from tyranny, only this time it’s from your own family.

So, your stent as a wealthy prince is short-lived as you escape from the castle to travel around Albion seeking help from its inhabitants to eventually overthrow your brother the King.

What’s nice is that, unlike other the Fables, once you’ve done this, you actually get to play as King and make decisions like a King. For a little while, at least. Once you’re King, you find out there there is a far greater threat – and so your decisions as King will determine that outcome.

This is cool because you basically get two story lines: defeat your tyrant brother to claim the throne; and rule for a short time, hoping your decisions make for a favorable outcome.

As I’m sure you’ve already guessed, that’s the story in a nutshell. Now, let’s dive into the specifics.

To be perfectly honest, I was greatly underwhelmed by this game. Because of the many differences between Fable 1 and Fable 2, I had expected more from Fable 3.

The plot isn’t the only thing that picks up from Fable 2 – gameplay, itself, is nearly identical.

The first thing you’ll notice is that you have the dog again – and, like in Fable 2, he’s pretty useless. He’ll help you find treasure and act as early enemy detection and… that’s about it. Disappointing!

Fighting is, once again, repetitive and limited to button mashing the same combo that will result in a different move, but you have no choice in that move.

It also seemed to me that there was a lot fewer weapons in this version. Again, keep in mind that I’ve only had limited time on the game, so they may be out there. Also, there is no customizing the weapons with jewels to add abilities. The weapons come with the upgrades – but you need to perform tasks to unlock them. LAME! One of them was that I needed to kill “150 ugly creatures.” What determines an “ugly” creature? That’s a lot – considering you’re throwing them at me 4 to 5 at a time. I’d much rather buy the upgrades.

You still have spells, but they are in the form of gauntlets to wear. This means you only have 2 spells at a time. You can switch between them, but you have to go back to your sanctuary base to swap them. Luckily, you can do this in the middle of a battle. One cool addition is that you can combine the spells for some pretty cool fighting. My favorite is mixing Fireball with Vortex. And, like fighting, spells are repetitive button mashing.

Let’s move on to armor and outfits. Again, they’re in very limited supply – and you get no bonuses for the outfit. They don’t improve people’s attitude toward you. They offer no defensive bonus or attack bonus. I could have played the entire game in the character’s pajamas and done just as well. They offer a bunch of customization to the outfits, but what’s the point?

Let’s talk about the interaction with the townsfolk, too. Remember, in Fable 2, that you had several choices depending on who you were talking to and how not everyone reacted the same way to a response? Well, that’s gone. Kinda. In this version, you get two choices and it doesn’t matter who they are. I went the entire game with “dance and belch” as my first choice of interaction, regardless of sex. Everyone loved dancing. Kinda took the fun out of it. Also, they took out the option to skip the cutscenes. I probably could have done the game in half the time if I could have skipped the cutscenes.

Like in Fable 2, you get to buy houses and businesses. With houses, though, you have to pay for their upkeep regularly. Their condition directly reflects how much rent you receive. Owning property is the best way to raise income (besides doing a job). Jobs are slightly new. You can choose to be a blacksmith, pie maker, or a lute musician. All stupid, but great for raising that last $1,000 you need to buy a house.

The fast travel is much improved, allowing you to even get closer to a section of the city. From this menu, you can also mange all your property and purchase some more. This is great, as you don’t have to run around from building to building to make changes.
The lack of difficulty settings is a disappointment. I went through the entire game without dying – not even once. I used the same weapon through the last 75% of the game and I only used 8 health potions and it wasn’t even the final battle. Gameplay is super simple.

So, in conclusion, Fable 3 (in my book) is a dud. Frankly, I may not even go back and play the rest of the missions. If you’re a gamer who is really into Sim games, you may love it. If you’re into RPG challenges that rock your brain, you’re not going to find it in Fable 3. Sorry.

Your thoughts?

I Got My Hands on Fable III

It’s here…

I Got My Hands on Fable III

Yes, it’s a legit copy – in my hands mere days before its official release. Review copies, FTW!

Fable III is the newest addition to the action-packed franchise that has sold more than six million copies. Old and new fans will now begin an epic journey – the race for the crown is only the beginning. Five decades have passed since the events laid out in Fable II and Albion has matured into an idustrial revolution. The fate of the entire kingdom is in danger.

In this newest version, you’ll be called upon to rally and fight with your people, sit in the seat of power and experience the true meaning of love and loss while defending your throne. During your quest for power, the choices you make will change the entire world around you… either for good or your own personal gain. Which way will you go? Will you end up being a “rebel without a cause, the tyrant you rebelled against, or the greatest ruler to ever live?”

According to many sources and early reviews, this game plays much more smoothly than its predecessor. However, the moral of the story is quite heavy, and many don’t seem to care for it. Apparently, you have to be a fan of lore and not just game play in order to truly enjoy this iteration.

Unlike any game that has come before, you actually have to get into the mindset of a ruler. The realities of monarchy are stressful and sometimes boring, so the crew behind this game’s creation is taking a large chance on its success. Fable III makes the stressful part very clear: a dollar amount is attached to your success – or failure – as the ruler. Your character will have to come up with specific amounts of money within a certain time period. If you don’t, you will suffer a consequence of some sort.

I’m very excited to have this advance copy. I may not be much of a gamer, but I promise I will give it my best shot!

How Many Home Video Game Consoles Have You Ever Owned?

Do you remember your first gaming system? Which games did you play the most? I’ve never been a hard-core gamer, but I have always enjoyed playing games. I’m a casual gamer. I may try my hand at the hottest new FPS, but I know that I won’t be very good at it. I play for the fun of it, not to see if I can beat the next guy’s score or have bragging rights at the end of the day.

How many of these have you owned?

LEGO Video Game Consoles

No, not the LEGO representations of the home entertainment video game consoles, but the game systems themselves?

I’d have to say that in this grouping (photographed, by the way, at the 2010 BrickCon)… the first one I owned was an Atari 2600. Didn’t we all?

Next, our family had a NES – the Nintendo! Oh, man… that one brings back memories.

Fast forward a few years, to when I had a Gameboy – at least, I think that tiny brick assembly is a Gameboy? That was my first portable game system, either way.

I also had a Sega Game Gear, but I don’t know if that’s pictured above. Could be, unless that’s a Sony PSP (in which case, I had one of those, too – although long after I had an Xbox).

Oh, then there’s the Nintendo Gamecube – had that for a brief while, along with a Sony PlayStation 2. These two didn’t get much play, so to speak. They collected dust. I haven’t been a very good gamer lately.

Uh, let’s see – the Wii! Yes, and the PS3. Although, much like their respective brand predecessors, they aren’t getting much play in my home today. Maybe all of that will change when I get more time to play instead of working on uploading blog posts and photos of LEGO video game consoles?

Halo: Reach Suffers from Disc Errors

Microsoft has now confirmed that some customers are experiencing issues when attempting to play their beloved new game. According to reports, the problem mostly affects the 20GB Xbox 360 Pro, which was on the market from 2005 to 2008. Users have also reported some issues playing Halo Reach with the 120 GB Xbox 360 Elite.

Microsoft representatives have said:

We are aware of a very small number of customers reporting that their copy of Halo Reach is causing a ‘disc read’ error. Those affected should contact Microsoft customer support at 1-800-4MY-XBOX for troubleshooting assistance.

There are now 68 pages of complaints on the Bungie Forums. Many posts suggest that things such as a dirty disc could be to blame. Reasons behind the issue, though, have been vague at best. The thread has been updated to point customers to the toll-free (US only) number to receive support. Bungie released a statement recently, as well:

If you find yourself lumped in with the ‘small number’ of people who find relevance in this portion of the update, you’re probably finding that five letter moniker more than a little frustrating. We feel your pain (we want you to play Reach, too!). If you’re receiving a disc read error with Halo: Reach, or any other title for that matter, Microsoft customer support is your path to resolution.

Have you had issues playing your copy of the game? Have you contacted either Bungie or Microsoft to resolve the problem?

Halo: Reach


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Microsoft and Bungie sent me an advance copy of “Halo: Reach” to play. Given that I’m not that much of a FPS kind of geek, I thought I’d just pop in the disc and let you see what I saw – for the first time, together.

After stopping the recording, i did play it for quite a while longer – as the people in the chat room will tell you. In fact, I might still be playing it right now.

I’ve learned one thing about “Halo: Reach” so far: DON’T LET THE AI PLAYERS DRIVE.

Sadly, there is one thing missing from this game: a n00b mode. The easy mode still is too much for someone like me. I’m not a gamer, by any stretch of the imagination. The game looks and sounds great, though, and that’s all I could ask for.

Apparently, I’m a little trigger happy. I truly didn’t mean to shoot the farmer – honest!

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Halo: Reach Release September 14, 2010

Halo: Reach is finally here! I was one of the lucky few to receive an advance copy of the game to try out. I have to say – it’s pretty amazing! I fired up my Xbox 360 over the weekend and gave the game my best effort. Keep in mind, I’m NOT a gamer by any stretch of the imagination. However, the graphics and overall game play on this version of the popular series is nothing short of fantastic.

Halo: Reach is considered to be the prequel to the entire Halo series. It tells the story of Noble Team – a group of Spartans – who saved numerous lives against impossible odds. The planet Reach is humanity’s last line of defense between the Covenant and their goal of destroying the Earth. If they fail, humanity will be perched on the brink of destruction.

Top features of the game include:

  • Welcome to Noble Team. – Halo: Reach immerses you in the ominous and heroic story as you play a member of Noble Team. Each member has deadly talents as unique as their individual personality and customized gear.
  • Intense and Epic Campaign. – Live the events that set the stage for the entire Halo trilogy as the UNSC and Covenant clas at the height of their military power. New weapons, vehicles and abilities compliment the familiar Halo arsenal. Wage the biggest battles ever witnessed inside of the Halo universe.
  • Definitive Multiplayer Experience. – The Halo series has set the gold standard for multiplayer experience with this iteration of the game. There are new social settings for matchmaking. This helps you find like-minded teammates, vote on preferred maps and keep an active roster. There are also new multiplayer game modes, such as “Invasion” and “Arena” to offer competitive players a chance to show off their uber skills like never before.
  • Technical Advancements. – Halo: Reach takes a huge leap forward with an all-new type of engine technology. Power your way through massive scale combat across unthinkable environments. Fight up close and personal alongside several new characters and creatures. The new engine represents the next generation of art, studio, AI, animation and special effects.
  • Player Customization and Rewards. – Halo: Reach gives you the ability to customize your Spartan with a variety of armor accessories. These will appear in both multiplayer and campaign play. You’ll be rewarded for nearly everything you do, no matter what your style of play is. Earn credits to unlock additional cosmetic upgrades via the Armory.

There are two special editions of the game. Both include collectible items and special in-game content.

  • Halo: Reach Limited Edition – This edition includes a game disc housed in recovered ONI black box. It features an exclusive Elite armor set for use in multiplayer modes. You’ll also find an artifact bag containing Dr. Halsey’s personal journal and other classified documents which unravel long-held secrets from around the Halo universe.
  • Halo:Reach Legendary Edition – This is the complete Halo: Reach collection. You’ll find the game disc, a manual and the contents listed above for the Limited Edition. Also, you’ll enjoy a Noble Team statue crafted by artisans at McFarlane Toys. There’s also an exclusive multiplayer Spartan armor effect.

By every stretch of the imagination, Halo: Reach is sure to be a huge hit for Microsoft and Bungie Games. More than 2.7 million players participated in the “Halo: Reach” multiplayer beta in May, making it the largest console video game beta test on record and more than triple the size of the historic “Halo 3” beta.

Are you anxious for the release of Halo: Reach tomorrow? Have you already gotten a copy in your hot little hands?