Microsoft Game Studios and Bungie Studios today confirmed the upcoming release of two new, eagerly awaited downloadable maps for â€œHaloÂ® 2.â€ The maps will be available as premium downloadable content for XboxÂ® and Xbox 360â„¢ on April 17.
Fans of the original â€œHaloâ€ have long requested the addition of some of their favorite maps to the critically acclaimed multiplayer experience of â€œHalo 2.â€ These re-creations, developed by Bungie and Certain Affinity Inc., are a perfect way to thank fans for their support as they surpass 800 million hours of â€œHalo 2â€ gaming on Xbox LIVEÂ®.
The two maps will bring new life to ancient battlefields and legendary skirmishes, as both are new, improved and redesigned remakes of fan favorites from the original â€œHalo: Combat Evolved.â€ For the price of $4 for the pair, these maps bring a fresh burst of action to the seminal â€œHalo 2â€ online multiplayer experience. Both of the maps will be available through the â€œHalo 2â€ in-game content downloader for both Xbox and Xbox 360.*
The king of â€œHaloâ€ maps has returned at last. Hang â€™Em High, arguably the most popular multiplayer map for the original title, has been reimagined for â€œHalo 2â€ as Tombstone, with all-new graphics, features and a few hidden surprises. Now fans will enjoy the dangerous catwalks and trenches that made this the most requested â€œHaloâ€ multiplayer map ever, with a modernized â€œHalo 2â€ flavor.
The second map, Desolation, is a symmetrical, Deathmatch-oriented map and a beautiful remake of the original Derelict. With new graphics and effects and a massive gameplay overhaul, the old favorite is now faster-paced and more balanced than ever â€” perfect for intense â€œHalo 2â€ combat.
The more you read on the net, the more you sense this is NOT just an isolated incident. While luckily these guys find it comical, they are by no means alone. It appears Sony has launched an Xbox 360 EMP (I kid, I kid), because I have noticed a huge spike in the number of broken launch consoles. They are all now out of warranty, so tons of owners are SOL.
I will be posting my own experiences in the near future, because awareness needs to be escalated, and something needs to be done.
1. Why a third SKU?
Sure, Microsoft is running a business. But it’s ridiculous to try and convince us it’s the only way they could have introduced a larger hard drive. Their argument is that by offering it as only an add-on, it would put new buyers in an awkward situation. If you want to get a new 360 w/ 120GB hard drive, you would either have to buy the Core + HDD and get skimped on the cables and wireless controller, or you would buy the Premium and have a left over 20GB HDD.
All true, and neither of these options are pleasant for a new customer. So why couldn’t you just absorb the extra cost and REPLACE the 20GB hard drive with 120GB? If you wanted to be really awesome, you could even throw that 20GB drive on the Core. Essentially the Elite would become the new Premium, and the current Premium would become the new Core. Sure, it’s not financially ideal, but last I checked your in the green for each console sold, unlike one of your competitors. Stay competitive! You could have used this opportunity to sway the decision of some people still sitting on the fence. Read the rest of this entry »
What do you two with two aging, rival franchises? Have them compete in the olympics! For the first time ever, Mario and Sonic will appear together in a video game. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games (creative title, right?) will pit characters from both franchises against each other in the 2008 Olympics, competing in such events as the 100m dash, table tennis, and swimming. From the press release:
â€œMario and Sonic have been respectful rivals since the early days of video games,â€ says Shigeru Miyamoto, Senior Managing Director and General Manager, Entertainment Analysis and Development Division, Nintendo Co., Ltd.. â€œIn fact, for a long time they have been discussing the possibility of one day competing against each other. Now that they have been given the perfect opportunity to meet at the Olympic Games, we may finally learn who is actually faster, Mario or Sonic?â€
I didn’t even know this was a topic for debate. Has Miyamoto ever played a Sonic game?! I mean, I don’t think Mario is exactly known for his speed (unless you stick him in a go-kart). Regardless, I’m glad to see Nintedo and Sega working together–more for Sega’s sake than Nintendo’s. This is a title to watch for on Wii and DS.
Disclaimer: This can’t be confirmed until someone actually gets their hands on the new 120GB HDD, but in theory this should work.
Remember back in January when TheSpecialist released HDDHackr, a tool which allows you to use a non-certified hdd in your Xbox 360? It wasn’t that big of a deal at the time because you were still limited to 20GB of usable space. The reason being that you need to rip the security sector of an official drive, and write it to your new, unofficial drive. The security sector has the drive size, and although you could use a larger HDD, only the amount of space indicated in the security sector is usable.
With the dawn of the 120GB HDD from Microsoft, we will now be able to obtain a new security sector allowing you to upgrade your current drive to 120GB. This has been the assumption since TheSpecialist released the first version of HDDHackr.
The current version of HDDHackr is limited to using a Western Digital SATA BEVS HDD. If you plan to upgrade to 120GB, you will need a drive of at LEAST 120GB. Larger will also work, but only 120GB will be usable. Newegg carries the ideal drive for $84.99 shipped.
Before you go making any purchases in haste, keep in mind none of this is proven yet. It is possible Microsoft has added additional security, or at least changed it enough to disable the hack in it’s current state. I don’t think this is very likely, because replacing the drive doesn’t create any security risk for Microsoft or their content suppliers. By applying this hack you are rewriting your drives firmware to match that of the stock drive, security and all. Content on your unsupported drive is no more or less secure.
Rejoice, because in all likelihood the crafty among us will be able to upgrade our current drives for a mere $85. I just wish you luck trying to not lose all your game saves and content in the process.
When the new drives are in the wild, we will keep you posted on how this develops.
No surprise here. Microsoft finally announced the Xbox 360 Elite, expected to hit stores April 29th. The speculation turned out to be true: black, HDMI, and 120GB HDD.
Now the bad news. There are apparently NO hardware changes (less HDMI port). That means no 65nm cpu. HDMI will NOT become available for current owners. And if you plan on picking up the 120GB HDD seperately, be ready to put down $179! Yes, $180. Unfreakingbelievable.
On the bright side, you get all that is pictured in the $479 bundle. That includes the HD component cables you are accustomed to, a HDMI cable, and a seperate audio breakout cable if you want to use HDMI w/ seperate audio. That was a major concern for me, because I use optical audio, and my Dolby receiver has no HDMI. I would have had no way to run the 5.1 sound from my TV back to my receiver. Bravo, Microsoft, the audio breakout is a nice touch.
Full details with tons of pictures are available directly at Xbox.com.
Seriously though, $180 for a 120GB drive? Nearly 5 years ago I threw a 120GB drive into my first Xbox for under $100!
On10.net, an official Microsoft blog, is breaking what they are calling “two of the coolest Microsoft annoucements [sic] since CES.” The first will be tonight at midnight EST, and again tomorrow at midnight. There are no hints, but I have strong reason to believe one if not both will be Xbox related. This also coincides with GameDaily BIZ’s most recent rumor mongering that the Xbox 360 Elite will be officially announced tomorrow.
Tune in to On10.net tonight at midnight, or of course just check back here.
Here’s the deal. Blu-ray was rushed out the door in order to stay competitive with HD DVD. The Blu-ray Disc Association has only recently finalized the formats specifications, which most current players do not conform to. This includes the Playstation 3, and all of Sony’s own Blu-ray players. The lacking features include PIP support, part of BD-Java technology. Many players that even support BD-Java, do not support picture in picture.
What I find most humorous is that Crank and The Descent placed two versions of the film on the disc, one with and one without PIP, to get around the limitations. Although a creative workaround, it hinders the bit rate and space for bonus features.
After October 31, 2007, picture-in-picture (via BD-J) will be mandatory for players to carry the Blu-ray logo. New specification requirements also include 256MB of persistent memory storage, and a required 1GB for players with an internet connection. This new memory requirement is also part of the BD-J picture-in-picture spec.
So what does this mean for your current Blu-ray player? A simple firmware update, right? Well, a firmware update obviously won’t give you memory that isn’t already there. Andy Parsons, senior VP of advanced product development at Pioneer Electronics, believes picture-in-picture is too complicated to be fixed with an update. Read the rest of this entry »