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August 31st, 2007

PLAYSTATION STORE: TEKKEN 5 DARK RESURRECTION ONLINE PACK

Namco Bandai has released an online multiplayer expansion pack for it’s downloadable PlayStation 3 fighter Tekken 5 Dark Resurrection. The pack, priced at $9.99 for the expansion alone or bundled with the full game for $29.99, naturally adds online versus multiplayer via the PlayStation Network and is available for purchase via the PlayStation Store.

"The hugely popular arcade and console fighting game, Tekken®5 Dark Resurrection™ is now available with an all-new ONLINE BATTLE feature! Take on other players from around the country, in full HD running at a smooth 60 frames per second! Prove who the real King of the Iron Fist Tournament is by checking the online rankings. Experience the pinnacle of fighting games as Tekken reaches into the “Online Vs.” world for the first time ever!

The online features of Tekken®5 Dark Resurrection™ ONLINE make use of the PLAYSTATION®Network. All terms of use of the PLAYSTATION®Network apply. Online game play of Tekken®5 Dark Resurrection™ may be adversely affected by network conditions. As such, instances in which the game may not be playable online or the game play conditions suffer may occur." - PlayStation Store

While some may gripe that Namco is nickle and diming gamers to death for an expansion that should be free, it is worth mentioning that Tekken 5 Dark Resurrection was not priced as a full release – even as a downloadable title – so the option of adding multiplayer if you wish for a small price isn’t completely unreasonable in my opinion.

August 31st, 2007

PLAYSTATION STORE: SUPER PUZZLE FIGHTER II TURBO HD REMIX

Yesterday’s PlayStation Store update saw the addition of Capcom’s Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix for the PlayStation 3 to the service.

"One of the most popular puzzle games of all time is back with HD graphics, dazzling elemental effects and a new re-balanced X mode! Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix brings together the worlds of Street Fighter, Darkstalkers and other Capcom characters to provide extremely addictive puzzle mayhem. Enjoy single player, local versus mode or just watch other players duke it out online!" - PlayStation Store

The game is priced at $9.99 and a demo version is available to assist in your purchase decision.

August 31st, 2007

XBOX LIVE ARCADE TWO DAY SALE COMING SEPT 2ND & 3RD

Major Nelson has announced that Microsoft has decided to have a little bit of a Labor Day sale on four of the older Xbox Live Arcade titles. Starting on Sunday, September 2nd and ending on Monday, September 3rd, Dig Dug, Gauntlet, Small Arms and Zuma Deluxe will all be offered for half price.

  • Dig Dug – 200 points ($2.50)
  • Gauntlet – 200 points ($2.50)
  • Small Arms – 400 points ($5.00)
  • Zuma Deluxe – 400 points ($5.00)

Hopefully sales for these four titles during the promotion will increase dramatically enough to convince Microsoft to offer price reductions on many of the other older Arcade titles – even if only on a temporary basis.

August 31st, 2007

XBOX 360 NHL ‘08 DEMO NOW AVAILABLE

A demo of Electronic Arts NHL 08 for the Xbox 360 is now available for download in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States via the Xbox Live Marketplace. Download size is approximately 593.20MB.

August 31st, 2007

XBOX 360 TIMESHIFT DEMO NOW AVAILABLE

A demo of Sierra’s Timeshift for the Xbox 360 is now available for download in all regions except Germany via the Xbox Live Marketplace. Download size is approximately 581.78MB.

August 31st, 2007

PLAYSTATION 3 NASCAR ‘08 DEMO NOW AVAILABLE

A demo of Electronic Arts NASCAR ’08 for the PlayStation 3 is now available for download via the PlayStation Store. Download size is approximately 569MB.

August 31st, 2007

PLAYSTATION 3 TIGER WOODS PGA TOUR 08 DEMO NOW AVAILABLE

A demo of Electronic Arts Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 for the PlayStation 3 is now available for download via the PlayStation Store. Download size is approximately 729MB.

August 31st, 2007

PLAYSTATION 3 ALL PRO FOOTBALL 2K8 DEMO NOW AVAILABLE

A demo of 2K Games All Pro Football 2K8 for the PlayStation 3 is now available for download via the PlayStation Store. Download size is approximately 607MB.

August 30th, 2007

XBOX 360 CALL OF JUAREZ DEMO NOW AVAILABLE

A demo of Ubisoft’s Call of Juarez for the Xbox 360 is now available for download via the Xbox Live Marketplace in all regions except Asia and Mexico. Approximate download size is 708.79MB.

Link to / Comment on this article here

August 29th, 2007

XBOX LIVE ARCADE WEDNESDAYS – STREETS OF RAGE 2

I guess the folks at Microsoft decided to sneak a second Xbox Live Arcade game in at the last moment… The classic Sega Genesis brawler Streets of Rage 2 has made it’s Xbox 360 debut – with online co-op play.

While I may not have been that excited about Super Puzzle Fighter II, this is one game that I’ll most assuredly be grabbing – so long as it was emulated properly. The game plays in much the same fashion as Capcom’s Final Fight as you take the role of one of four characters who must fight their way through a city gone bad in search of a kidnapped friend. This one is definitely a classic, so I’d at least suggest you download the demo and give it a whirl.

One word of caution: word around the old internet water-cooler is that there are some issues with co-op play over Live right now. If that feature is a deciding factor in your purchase decision, you may want to hold off and make sure the game gets patched before you buy it.

Title: Streets of Rage 2
Developer: Backbone Entertainment
Publisher: Sega of America
Genre: Xbox Live Arcade
Release Date: 8/29/07
Console: Xbox 360
Players: 1-2
Full Game: 400 points ($5)
Rating: E (Everyone) – Animated Violence
Demo?: Yes

From the Xbox.com product description;

"The classic arcade fighting game Streets of Rage 2™ comes to Xbox LIVE® Arcade. Play as Blaze, Skate, Max, or Axel as you attempt to save Adam from the evil clutches of Dr. X. Special fighting moves for characters and unique weapons add to the excitement as you fight your way to the Syndicate’s stronghold.

  • Classic arcade fighting action: Each character has special abilities. Learn to use their moves to defeat the enemies and the bosses.
  • Unique weapons: Katanas, shuriken, knives, and more are available for the player. Weapons can even be thrown for ranged damage.
  • Stellar soundtrack: The music for the arcade version of Streets of Rage 2 by Yuzo Koshiro is widely considered as some of the finest music ever made for an arcade game.
  • Achievements: All new achievements to master and improve your Gamerscore. Control the Streets of Rage!" - Xbox.com

Now if only someone would tell Microsoft’s marketing group that Streets of Rage 2 was never released in the arcades.

August 29th, 2007

XBOX LIVE ARCADE WEDNESDAYS – SUPER PUZZLE FIGHTER II TURBO REMIX HD

This week only sees one Xbox Live Arcade release, but it’s one of the games that many people have been waiting for – Capcom’s Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo Remix HD has arrived in the Xbox Live Arcade with several new features to set it apart from it’s predecessors and an 800 Microsoft point ($10) price tag.

I’ve never been a fan of the Puzzle Fighter series, so I really don’t have much enthusiasm for this release, but I’m sure the series has enough fans who are willing to shell out ten dollars for the game. For those unfamiliar with the series, it’s a cross between a puzzle game and a fighter. Players use different combinations of gems to perform attack moves against their opponents. It’s by far more interesting than your standard puzzler, but it’s no Puzzle Quest if that’s they type of experience you’re expecting.

Title: Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix
Developer: Backbone Entertainment
Publisher: Capcom
Genre: Xbox Live Arcade
Release Date: 8/29/07
Console: Xbox 360
Players: 1-4
Full Game: 800 points ($10)
Rating: E (Everyone) – Mild Violence
Demo?: Yes

From the Xbox.com product description;

"One of the most popular puzzle games of all time is back with high-definition graphics, dazzling elemental effects and a new rebalanced X’ game mode! Super Puzzle Fighter™ II Turbo HD Remix brings together Capcom’s coolest fighting characters to provide extremely addictive puzzle mayhem. Enjoy single-player, local and online versus play, and spectator modes!

  • Classic arcade play: The game features all the classic elements from the original arcade game, including traditional X Mode. Think fast on your feet as gems fall into your character’s playfield. Don’t let the stack get too high.
  • New X’ Mode: The new X’ Mode has been rebalanced with adjusted drop patterns and damage to level the playing field.
  • Y and Z Modes: Y Mode challenges players to connect three or more gems horizontally, vertically or diagonally. Z Mode has you group four adjacent gems and rotate them to join to other same-colored gems.
  • Stunning new graphics: Beautifully detailed high-definition backgrounds and character art come from the talented artists of Udon Comics.
  • New elemental effects: Gems and Crash Gems interact with dazzling new effects.
  • Hidden characters: There’s Akuma, Dan, and more.
  • Online play: Get online with Xbox LIVE® and challenge other players to Ranked and Player Matches. Follow your progress on the leaderboards, and try to score the twelve all-new achievements!" - Xbox.com

While I passed on Street Trace: NYC last week, I did pick up Space Giraffe. The best way to look at Space Giraffe is to consider it an advanced version of Tempest mixed with some form of hallucinogen. It’s the type of game you definitely need to play a few times to get a feel for and I’d highly suggest you try the demo to see whether it’s going to be the kind of game you’ll enjoy.

The biggest criticism I have of the title is that the backgrounds tend to be a bit too over the top and detract from the gameplay experience a bit. It would have been a nice addition to the title if the ability to turn off or tone down the backgrounds had been included. Regardless, odds are that if you’re a huge Tempest fan, you’ll get a real kick out of Space Giraffe.

August 29th, 2007

LAZY DAY TRAILERS: HEAVENLY SWORD: LEGEND OF THE SWORD – PART FOUR

The fourth installment in Sony’s animated Heavenly Sword series has been released and it looks like the story is rapidly catching up to present day. Unless there’s a major plot twist about to happen, we now get to see the birth of Nariko – and some early signs of how her arrival was taken by her clan. Here’s a hint – not good.

Those of you looking to play catch-up with the series should check out the below videos in their proper order. We’ll continue posting each episode as they’re made available, so stay tuned.

August 29th, 2007

BIOSHOCK BIG DADDY BROKEN FIGURINE SUPPORT WEBSITE NOW OPEN

Last week we told you about an issue where many of the figurines included with the collector’s edition of BioShock had been damaged in shipment and that because of this, 2K Games would be setting up a website where consumers could request a replacement figurine from the company and get a printed version of the previously downloadable only “Breaking the Mold” art book for their troubles.

That site is now active, so if your Big Daddy arrived in less than pristine condition, now is the time to go about letting them know. Full instructions for the return process are included on the site – with the exception of what carrier they use for the return.

August 29th, 2007

XBOX 360 TIGER WOODS PGA TOUR 08 DEMO NOW AVAILABLE

A demo of Electronic Arts Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 for the Xbox 360 is now available for download in all regions except Austria, Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Mexico and New Zealand via the Xbox Live Marketplace. Download size is approximately 733MB.

August 29th, 2007

XBOX 360 GHOST RECON ADVANCED WARFIGHTER 2 THROWBACK PACK FREE

Looks like Ubisoft is trying to bring the Xbox 360 version of Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 up to par with it’s just released PlayStation 3 sibling. Last week they made the original Throwback Pack a free download and have now released a second Throwback Pack as a free download.

"GRAW2 Throwback Pack 2 consists of 7 classic maps from Ghost Recon’s illustrious history. In addition to the 7 maps, there is a new game mode called Co-op Exfiltration. All of these maps have upgraded visuals and support all of GRAW2’s thousands of customizable game modes." - GRAW 2 Throwback Pack 2 dashboard description

Pretty nifty indeed – remember, free is always good.

August 28th, 2007

CALL OF DUTY 4 XBOX 360 MULTIPLAYER BETA UPDATE

Many of you may be feeling a “small” amount of frustration with the way the Xbox 360 Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare beta registration was handled yesterday. If you’re like me, all you got when you tried to register the site was problem after problem. You would think by now that companies would know it’s impossible to really survive any kind of a “first come, first serve” web registration system. Basically, the thing was doomed from the start…

Now before you think I’m going to go off on a rant, I’m not. You see, I was all ready to write an article about poor planning, the frustration and the ill will that problems like this cause, when Infinity Ward stepped up to the plate and decided to fix things. It all started with a post at Infinity Ward employee FourZeroTwo’s blog(Please note: FourZeroTwo’s post is potentially NSFW due to language)

In a post that explained just how bothered the folks at Infinity Ward were about how the situation turned outand more importantly, how they planned to remedy the situation, FourZeroTwo announced that the Call of Duty 4 website would be taken down for maintenance and that when it came back online, the company would take beta test applications for the next 24 hours before randomly selecting those lucky gamers who would get into the beta test.

Well, the Call of Duty 4 website is back online and, as promised, beta applications are being accepted once more. According to Infinity Ward, they will continue accepting applications until 10pm EST today, at which time they’ll begin the process of randomly selecting who gets into the beta and setting up a schedule of when those people will be getting their invites.

Let me say to any companies that may be reading this, this is how you handle customer service. Admit the problem, assure your customers you’re going to fix the issue, make sure that your customers are treated fairly and then keep them informed on the status of the problem. Initially, the whole experience left me with a very bitter taste in my mouth. While I was still going to buy Call of Duty 4, I sure as hell wasn’t going to waste my time filling out surveys or looking into other contests if this was going to be what I could expect. With one simple fix, Infinity Ward took that negative experience and boosted their reputation with many gamers.

Well done Infinity Ward, well done.

August 27th, 2007

CALL OF DUTY 4 XBOX 360 MULTIPLAYER BETA REGISTRATION OPENS TODAY

This is going to be your last reminder on the subject, so pay attention! Registration for the Xbox 360 Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare multiplayer beta will be opening this afternoon. There’s still some confusion regarding the exact time applications will start to be accepted as the countdown timer indicates that registration will open at 12pm EST, while the text on the site states registration will be opening at 3pm EST (12pm PST).

According to the beta site, you will now if your application was processed successfully immediately, but an actual invite to the beta may take a few weeks. Keep that in mind before shooting off a million e-mails, ok?

August 27th, 2007

THIS WEEK’S RELEASES: AUGUST 27TH – SEPTEMBER 2ND

It looks like the drought has ended – at least for a week. This week’s release schedule is full of big name releases for everyone. What we’ve also got this week is a new format for telling you about what to expect at retail this week. Hopefully it will allow a little more flexibility in talking about the big name titles for the week.

  • Blue Dragon (Xbox 360)
    • What do you get when you combine the game design skills of Mistwalker’s Hironobu Sakaguchi with the character design skills of Akira Toriyama (of DragonBall Z fame)? You get Blue Dragon, the first of two Mistwalker designed RPG’s scheduled to come to the Xbox 360 this year. Blue Dragon actually boosted Xbox 360 sales in Japan when it was released last December, which is certainly saying something. Fans of traditional Japanese style role-playing games should certainly check this one out – the rest may want to consider a rental as reviews have been somewhat mixed.
  • Guild Wars: Eyes of the North (PC)
    • It’s an expansion to NCSoft’s free to play mmog Guild Wars. If you play the game, this release probably means something to you – if you don’t just keep on going.
  • Lair (PlayStation 3)
    • Sony’s highly anticipated dragon combat game finally reaches the PlayStation 3 this week amid tepid early reviews. I haven’t had a chance to try this game myself yet, but many sites are pointing to the Sixaxis motion controls as a large part of the negative buzz surrounding the title. Approach with caution.
  • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii)
    • Samus Aran is back for the third installment of the “Prime” series, and this time Nintendo’s premiere shooter is on the Wii. This is one of those titles that Wii owners have been waiting for, so demand should be high – and since Nintendo tends to take great care of their original properties, it shouldn’t disappoint.
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 (360, DS, PC, PS2, PS3, PSP & WII)
    • Electronic Arts brings it’s yearly golf update to most of the active consoles out there. Golf isn’t really my thing, but I know many who swear by the Tiger Woods series, so I’m guessing if golf is your thing, the release of this game is pretty exciting to you.
  • Warhawk (PlayStation 3)
    • Warhawk has gone through a lot of changes since it was first announced, the most important of which is the fact that the game is now a multiplayer only experience. The early reviews and hands-on impressions I’ve seen regarding the game have not been that kind so far, so you may want to consider renting this one before you buy it. While we’re on the subject of buying Warhawk, the game is actually available in two different formats – you can buy the game at retail for $59.99 (which includes bluetooth headset) or download the game via the PlayStation Store for a charge of $39.99
  • Wild Arms 5 (PlayStation 2)

    • Okay, maybe the Wild Arms series has seen better days, but I still hold a soft spot in my heart for the series due to the first game in the series on the original PlayStation. I know Alter Code: F was a remake of that game, but I’d still like to see a true sequel. Please note: This game is not that sequel.

That’s about it for the big titles for the week. Those of you wondering where Stranglehold is, the PC and Xbox 360 version has apparently been delayed until the first week of September while the PlayStation 3 version is still on track for a mid-September release. Those of you dying for more stylized gunplay will just have to wait a little longer (or keep playing around with the Xbox 360 demo) – and now, on to the week’s full release list.

  • Brunswick Pro Bowling – PS2 – 8/28/2007
  • Brunswick Pro Bowling – PSP – 8/28/2007
  • Brunswick Pro Bowling – WII – 8/28/2007
  • Carnival Games – WII – 8/28/2007
  • I Spy Funhouse – DS – 8/28/2007
  • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption – WII – 8/28/2007
  • Metropolismania 2 – PS2 – 8/28/2007
  • Mission: Combat Force – PC – 8/28/2007
  • Moto GP 2007 – 360 – 8/28/2007
  • NHRA Drag Racing – PSP – 8/28/2007
  • Panzer Killer – PC – 8/28/2007
  • Turn it Around – DS – 8/28/2007
  • Blue Dragon – 360 – 8/29/2007
  • Dead Head Fred – PSP – 8/29/2007
  • Dynasty Warriors Gundam – 360 – 8/29/2007
  • Dynasty Warriors Gundam – PS3 – 8/29/2007
  • Garfield: Nightmares – DS – 8/29/2007
  • Guild Wars: Eye of the North – PC – 8/29/2007
  • Honda: Motorcycle Racing – PS2 – 8/29/2007
  • Medieval II Total War: Kingdoms – PC – 8/29/2007
  • Monster Hunter Freedom 2 – PSP – 8/29/2007
  • Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Heroes – PSP – 8/29/2007
  • Professional Fisherman’s Tour: Northern Hemisphere – DS – 8/29/2007
  • Stuntman: Ignition – 360 – 8/29/2007
  • Stuntman: Ignition – PS2 – 8/29/2007
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 – 360 – 8/29/2007
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 – DS – 8/29/2007
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 – PC – 8/29/2007
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 – PS2 – 8/29/2007
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 – PS3 – 8/29/2007
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 – PSP – 8/29/2007
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 – WII – 8/29/2007
  • Warhawk (w/ bluetooth headset) – PS3 – 8/29/2007
  • Wild Arms 5 – PS2 – 8/29/2007
  • Lair – PS3 – 8/31/2007

Please keep in mind these are only estimated release dates and could change at any time.

August 26th, 2007

LAZY DAY TRAILERS: PENNY ARCADE ADVENTURES

The Penny Arcade Expo is winding down today, but one of the things to come out of this year’s show is an updated look at Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness. In addition to the news that the game will be available in early 2008 for Windows, Mac OS-X, Linux and the Xbox 360 via the Xbox Live Arcade, the gang from Hothead Games debuted a new trailer which shows the game off in a more polished, playable looking form.

Perhaps the biggest news is that the player won’t play as either Tycho or Gabe, but rather will play alongside them with custom created characters. The description of the gameplay itself makes it sound like a cross between an action/adventure title and a traditional turn based role playing game. Word is the game maintains the same edge as the webcomic, so expect the ESRB to hand down a M rating when the time comes.

This one looks like it could go either way at this point, but so far the hands-on impressions coming out of PAX are generally positive. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on this one as more information becomes available.

August 25th, 2007

XBOX 360 MEDAL OF HONOR: AIRBORNE DEMO NOW AVAILABLE

A demo of Electronic Arts Medal of Honor: Airborne for the Xbox 360 is now available for download in all regions via the Xbox Live Marketplace. Download size is 972.84MB.

August 25th, 2007

XBOX 360 CALL OF DUTY 4 MULTIPLAYER BETA REGISTRATION OPENS MONDAY

Okay gang, it’s almost time for Activision to start taking applicants for the Xbox 360 Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare multiplayer beta test. Registration is scheduled to open on Monday, August 27th at approximately 12:00pm EST via the game’s website at http://www.charlieoscardelta.com. I’m not sure how accurate the countdown timer at the site is, so be sure to check the site often so you don’t wind up missing out.

August 25th, 2007

PLAYSTATION 3 FOLKLORE DEMO NOW AVAILABLE

A demo of Sony’s upcoming fantasy title Folklore is now available for download via the PlayStation Store. The demo weighs in at 1,107MB and lets you experience two of the worlds in the game.

"Be the first to cross over to the “other” side and discover the amazing worlds and creatures of Folklore. Join Ellen and Keats in their search to solve the mysteries of the Netherworld and learn to protect yourself from the dangers that wait for you. Experience a completely original battle system as you use your SIXAXIS™ controller to take your enemies’ powers and make their abilities your own.

In this demo, play as both characters and visit two of the many worlds of Folklore. Explore the wonders of the Faery Realm as Ellen or discover the wastelands of Warcadia as Keats." - PlayStation Store demo description

Folklore is scheduled to release exclusively on the PlayStation 3 some time this October.

August 25th, 2007

XBOX 360 MADDEN NFL 08 DEMO NOW AVAILABLE

A demo of Electronic Arts Madden NFL 08 for the Xbox 360 is now available for download in Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Singapore, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States via the Xbox Live Marketplace. Download size is 813.50MB.

August 25th, 2007

XBOX 360 GRAW2 THROWBACK PACK NOW A FREE DOWNLOAD

Just a quick note here – Xbox Live Director of Programming Larry “Major Nelson” Hyrb has announced that Ubisoft has made the Xbox 360Throwback Pack” for Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 a free download. The pack was previously priced at 800 points ($10) – no announcement was made regarding refunds for anyone who purchased it recently, so I wouldn’t hold my breath hoping for one.

August 24th, 2007

MAME32 .118.3 RELEASED

Following in the footsteps of the latest MAME update, MAME32 v.118.3, the Windows GUI port of MAME v.118u3 is now available. The same advice I gave about the latest build of MAME applies to this version of MAME32 as well.

Check out the official MAME32 page here for more details and the download links.

  • MAME32 – Official home of MAME32
August 24th, 2007

MAME V.118U3 RELEASED

The updates continue on the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, as version .118u3 is now available for download. This update makes a bunch of background changes including more DIP switch adjustments, enhancements to CD-ROM emulation in the CPS3 driver and a few changes to make V30 and I8086 CPU cores run on actual 16-bit busses.

What that means to the average user is that there are a lot of things that could go wrong and nothing earth-shatteringly new in this build. The bottom line is that (say it with me now, gang) you may want to consider holding off on upgrading your installation until the next full release. As always, those of you interested in testing this build for the dev team should download the update and then head on over to MAME Testers to find out how to get started.

The updated emulator files can be found at the official MAME development page at Mamedev.org. You can Click here to see the full list of what’s new in this update.

  • MAME – Official website
  • MAMEDev – Official site of the MAME development team
August 23rd, 2007

XBOX 360 BLAZING ANGELS 2 DEMO NOW AVAILABLE

A demo of Ubisoft’s Blazing Angels 2: Secret Missions of WWII for the Xbox 360 is now available in all regions for download via the Xbox Live Marketplace. Approximate download size is 619.70MB.

August 22nd, 2007

XBOX LIVE ARCADE WEDNESDAYS – SPACE GIRAFFE & STREET TRACE: NYC

This week’s Xbox Live Arcade double feature brings two original games to the service as both the highly publicized Space Giraffe and far lesser known Street Trace: NYC make their debuts.

We’ll start off with Space Giraffe by Llamasoft. The game was designed by Jeff Minter, the brains behind the excellent Tempest 2000 – a release on Atari’s ill-fated Jaguar console. Space Giraffe does indeed seem to draw quite a bit from Tempest, and I really can’t wait to see just how the game tries to take that form of gameplay in a new direction. I would be lying if I didn’t mention that I am a bit concerned over how the game will control – I know it’s a fairly common theme for me to say that about Xbox Live Arcade releases, but I really do feel it’s something that Microsoft really needs to address.

A few things you should note regarding Space Giraffe. First and foremost, there seems to be some confusion over the pricing of the game. Jeff Minter has stated numerous times that the game is to be priced at 400 points ($5), however the product information page show the cost at 800 points ($10). Be sure to check the price before making any purchase so you aren’t surprised later. In addition, an ESRB rating for the game was not available at this time.

Title: Space Giraffe
Developer: Llamasoft
Publisher: Llamasoft
Genre: Xbox Live Arcade
Release Date: 8/22/07
Console: Xbox 360
Players: 1
Full Game: 400 points ($5)*
Rating: Rating Pending
Demo?: Yes

From the Xbox.com product description;

Space Giraffe features uniquely beautiful graphics and 100 levels of lovingly hand-crafted shoot-em-up action gameplay from the makers of Llamatronand Tempest 2000. Collect power-ups to activate Bonus Rounds and master the strategies necessary to maximize your score on every level!

  • Extensive gameplay: Play through 100 levels of shooting and strategy.
  • Level design: Enjoy the unique graphical appearance of each level due to the use of the Neon engine.
  • Special features: Learn special moves to increase the Bonus Multiplier, and collect power-ups to gain access to the Bonus Round.
  • Bonus challenges: Finish all 100 levels to unlock a hidden gameplay mode.” - Xbox.com

Next up, we have Street Trace: NYC. This game seemingly came from out of nowhere, so I’m not all that familiar with it. Based on the promotional video and screenshots I’ve seen of it, I’m guessing that Street Trace is a cross between the SSX and Twisted Metal series. My best advice is to approach this one with caution – be sure to pick up the demo before deciding on a purchase.

Title: Street Trace: NYC
Developer: Gaia Industries
Publisher: Gaia Industries
Genre: Xbox Live Arcade
Release Date: 8/22/07
Console: Xbox 360
Players: 1-4
Full Game: 800 points ($10)
Rating: Rating Pending
Demo?: Yes

From the Xbox.com product description;

Street Trace:NYC™ is fast-paced street racing and arena combat set against a grim futuristic corporate-controlled environment. Choose one of nine hoverboard-riding street soldiers to carve a plasma trail as you battle and grind through six areas, including abandoned highways and war-torn arenas. Play all of the seven different games in tournaments or exhibition matches, and upgrade your hoverboard and weapons as you play. Master the trials of the Single Player Campaign or compete with up to four players split-screen or up to eight online via Xbox LIVE®.

  • A different kind of racing: Race and battle your opponents on decked-out hoverboards in three different arenas and three different street circuits. Grind your hoverboard along metal rails to gain an advantage. Your board’s emissions give passing players a strategic speed boost, allowing those falling behind to rubber-band off the race leaders.
  • Numerous game modes: Take on the single player campaign with 18 time trials and five champion tournaments, or go multiplayer with four-player split-screen or up to eight players on Xbox LIVE. Choose from four different arena game types, Flag, Hunter, Chaos, and Takedown, and from three different street game types, Screamer, Chaos, and Street Trace.
  • Multiplayer join-in-progress: The Street Trace:NYC lobby shows how many people are playing online, allows players to join tournaments in progress, and to follow games as they progress.
  • Decked-out hoverboards: Upgrade your board’s engine, boost, shields and jump capabilities, and use weapons such as lasers, mines, stampede, and rockets. Gotta love rockets.
  • Game goals: Earn your spot on the Leaderboards, and gain twelve new Achievements to increase your Gamerscore.” - Xbox.com

That’s it for this week. I know normally I close the week’s XBLA release post with a one or two sentence review of the previous week’s titles, but to be perfectly honest, last week’s games didn’t interest me in the slightest, so I avoided them.

August 22nd, 2007

XBOX 360 SKATE DEMO NOW AVAILABLE

A demo of Electronic Arts skate for the Xbox 360 is now available for download via the Xbox Live Marketplace in all regions except Austria, Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Mexico or New Zealand. Approximate download size is 1.09GB.

  • skate – Official website
August 21st, 2007

LAZY DAY TRAILERS: HEAVENLY SWORD: LEGEND OF THE SWORD – PART THREE

If you’ve been following along with the home version of our game, you’re no doubt aware that we’ve been posting each installment of the the Heavenly Sword animated series as they hit the internet. If you haven’t been following along, now is the perfect time to start, as the third installment in the series has been released. It looks like we’re getting closer to the present time as It’s a pretty good bet that the evil brother in today’s video is none other than King Bohan.

Those of you looking to play catch-up with the series should check out the below videos in their proper order. We’ll continue posting each episode as they’re made available, so stay tuned.

August 21st, 2007

DROP BIOSHOCK COLLECTOR’S EDITION BOX, GET AN ART BOOK?

If you’ve been following all the BioShock news, you may have heard the rumor that many of the Big Daddy figurines included with the Collector’s Edition have been damaged in shipment. If you happen to be one of the "lucky" few who get a broken Big Daddy, don’t despair – it may be a blessing in disguise. According to a post over at Kotaku, 2K Games will be making replacement figurines available to those who received broken figurines. As an added bonus, because of the delay involved in receiving a replacement, 2K will be sending out printed versions of the downloadable art book available at the Cult of Rapture website.

Now then, before you go and do anything like "accidentally" breaking your Big Daddy figure, keep in mind that 2K has not yet posted any specific requirements for getting a replacement figure or the art book. The information on the replacement policy will be posted at this link once 2K has made all the details available.

August 21st, 2007

XBOX 360 RATATOUILLE DEMO NOW AVAILABLE

A demo of THQ’s Ratatouille for the Xbox 360 is now available for download via the Xbox Live Marketplace in all regions except Japan. Approximate download size is 708MB.

August 21st, 2007

FREE FORZA MOTORSPORT 2 THEME & GAMERPICS AVAILABLE

Just a quick note here, Nissan is making a free Forza Motorsport 2 theme and set of gamer pics available via the Xbox Live Marketplace. Here are the details as per Xbox Live Director of Programming Larry "Major Nelson" Hyrb.

  • Theme: Forza Motorsport 2

    • Content: Nissan Sentra SE-R Theme
    • Price: Free
    • Availability: United States
    • Dash Text: Download the Forza 2 Theme and you will be registered in the Nissan Sentra SE-R Forza 2 Challenge (subject to verification of eligibility) where you can race to win a trip to Los Angeles and a new car! For rules and details, please visit http://www.xboxlivetournament.com/Tournament.aspx?t=forzatwochallenge.
  • Gamer Picture: Forza Motorsport 2

    • Content: Nissan Sentra SE-R Gamer Picture
    • Price: Free
    • Availability: United States
    • Dash Text: Download the Forza 2 Theme and you will be registered in the Nissan Sentra SE-R Forza 2 Challenge (subject to verification of eligibility) where you can race to win a trip to Los Angeles and a new car! For rules and details, please visit http://www.xboxlivetournament.com/Tournament.aspx?t=forzatwochallenge.

Sure it may only be a bunch of promotional materials for the Sentra, but free is free.

August 20th, 2007

THIS WEEK’S RELEASES: AUGUST 20TH – AUGUST 26TH

Well, it’s BioShock week gang. After months of waiting, Xbox 360 and PC owners will finally get their chance to visit the city of Rapture in it’s entirety. While BioShock may be the most exciting new release on this week’s schedule, there are a few other games you may want to keep an eye out for.

Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon Advanced WarFighter 2 finally comes to the PlayStation 3 and PSP this week, bringing it’s own brand of semi-futuristic combat action to owners of those systems. I’m personally not a fan of the series, but I know many really get into it – so have at it.

Finally, Brain Age 2 makes it’s debut on the Nintendo DS this week, and if the sales of it’s predecessor are any indication, it should sell like gangbusters – let’s just hope we don’t have to say the word “blue” with this one.

While those are the high points of this week’s releases, there are a few other games that could be worth checking out, so let’s take a look at the full release list for the coming week.

  • BioShock – 360 – 8/21/2007
  • BioShock – PC – 8/21/2007
  • BioShock Collector’s Edition (Gamestop Exclusive) – 360 – 8/21/2007
  • BioShock Collector’s Edition (Gamestop Exclusive) – PC – 8/21/2007
  • Brain Age 2: More Training In Minutes A Day – DS – 8/21/2007
  • Operation: Vietnam – DS – 8/21/2007
  • Brunswick Pro Bowling – PS2 – 8/22/2007
  • Brunswick Pro Bowling – PSP – 8/22/2007
  • Brunswick Pro Bowling – WII – 8/22/2007
  • Destination: Treasure Island – PC – 8/22/2007
  • Dragoneer’s Aria – PSP – 8/22/2007
  • Ghost Recon: Advanced WarFighter 2 – PS3 – 8/22/2007
  • Ghost Recon: Advanced WarFighter 2 – PSP – 8/22/2007
  • I Spy Funhouse – DS – 8/22/2007
  • Jeanne D’ Arc – PSP – 8/22/2007
  • Metropolismania 2 – PS2 – 8/22/2007
  • Panzer Killer – PC – 8/22/2007
  • The Settlers (GameStop Exclusive) – DS – 8/22/2007
  • Turn it Around – DS – 8/22/2007
  • Two Worlds – 360 – 8/22/2007
  • Two Worlds – PC – 8/22/2007
  • Two Worlds Collector’s Edition – 360 – 8/22/2007
  • Two Worlds Collector’s Edition – PC – 8/22/2007
  • Mission: Combat Force – PC – 8/24/2007

Please keep in mind these are only estimated release dates and could change at any time.

August 19th, 2007

BIOSHOCK $10 OFF AT CIRCUIT CITY

I’m telling you, this is actually getting funny. Halfway through typing that last story, I glanced over at the Sunday paper and notices that this week’s Circuit City flyer has both versions of BioShock listed as on sale starting Tuesday. The sale knocks ten dollars off the price of each, so you can grab the Xbox 360 version of the game for $49.99 and the PC version for $39.99. The sale price is apparently also available online (though who would want to wait for the game to arrive in the mail?)

If you haven’t pre-ordered already, this could certainly be the way to go. I wouldn’t expect quantities to last long at this price, so if you plan on taking advantage of the sale, be sure to order online or get there as soon as possible on Tuesday.

August 19th, 2007

BIOSHOCK DOWNLOADABLE ART BOOK AVAILABLE

No sooner did I finish writing that last article did I remember what I actually wanted to tell you about today – always seems to work like that, doesn’t it? 2K Games Cult of Rapture website has a downloadable book featuring art from their upcoming title BioShock. The book was originally one of the options gamers voted on for inclusion in the Collector’s Edition boxed set, but apparently it lost out to the Big Daddy figure, the mini-soundtrack CD and the making of DVD. (Ok, I get how it could lose to the Big Daddy figurine, but to be voted down as opposed to a mini-soundtrack and "making of" disc? what were those people thinking?)

Anyway, the book is available in both standard and high definition formats and can be downloaded via this link. One word of warning – 2K’s Elizabeth Tobey advises that you NOT read the forward of the book until you’ve actually played through the game as it contains several spoilers. I’d suggest downloading it but not actually looking at it until you’re done just to be safe.

August 19th, 2007

MAKE YOUR OWN ATARI 2600 CARTRIDGE LABELS

Yeah, it’s a slow news day. I woke up late and even after an hour of scouring news sites, I can’t find anything really all that interesting to post that won’t take up the whole day to write up – not even a damn video. So instead, I’m going to resort to fluff. Now, I wouldn’t give my readers just any fluff mind you, it’s got to be somewhat entertaining fluff. Keeping that goal in mind, I present to you the Atari 2600 Label Maker. Now you too can create labels for games that you think should have been on Atari’s classic system.

While it’ll probably only keep you occupied for a few minutes, it’s better than nothing, right? Personally, I figured since Madden is released on every system anyway, why not look at it as a 2600 game too. (Click here)

Well, I’m going to get back to doing something constructive now – like playing through the BioShock demo yet again. I’d suggest you do the same. Enjoy.

August 18th, 2007

BIOSHOCK SETTING THE WORLD ON FIRE

If you’re like me, you’re no doubt sitting around right now cursing the fact that you weren’t able to secure one of those copies of BioShock that was sold a week too early. While I can take come solace in the fact that in just a few days I’ll have not only the game, but a Big Daddy statue to put on my desk, that knowledge isn’t doing me too much good as I look at all the reviews for BioShock popping up across the internet.

Those reviews are what we’re here to talk about today – for want of a less cliche’ d tagline, BioShock is indeed setting the world on fire. The reviews coming in on the game are, without exception, all near perfect. It’s rare that you hear a game not get bagged on anywhere, so I thought I’d give everyone a chance to read most of those reviews for themselves. Let’s tale a look, shall we? (Click on the below links to head over to the reviews they represent – thanks to Tenwyn over at Gamer’s Lounge for finding two of these early reviews)

In related news, Kotaku is reporting that GameStop has stopped taking orders for the limited edition of BioShock – guess this time it really was limited… that or advance word on the game has become so great that it’s already massively selling above it’s original estimates.

No matter what the story is on the Limited Edition or the above reviews, it really looks like Xbox 360 and PC owners are going to be in for a treat next week. I guess I’ll just have to console myself (no pun intended…maybe) by playing the demo over and over until Tuesday.

August 17th, 2007

MAME32 .118.2 RELEASED

Following in the footsteps of the latest MAME update, MAME32 v.118.2, the Windows GUI port of MAME v.118u2 is now available. The same advice I gave about the latest build of MAME applies to this version of MAME32 as well.

Check out the official MAME32 page here for more details and the download links.

  • MAME32 – Official home of MAME32
August 17th, 2007

PLAYSTATION 3 DIRT DEMO NOW AVAILABLE

An PlayStation 3 demo of DiRT is now available for download via the PlayStation Store. Download size is approximately 553MB.

  • DiRT – Official website
August 17th, 2007

PLAYSTATION 3 NCAA FOOTBALL ‘08 DEMO NOW AVAILABLE

A demo of Electronic Arts NCAA Football ’08 for the PlayStation 3 is now available for download via the PlayStation Store. Download size is approximately 728MB.

August 16th, 2007

EPIC GAMES TO ADD GAMESPY SUPPORT TO UNREAL ENGINE 3

According to a post over at Kotaku, Epic Games has inked a deal with Gamespy to incorporate Gamespy’s online technology with Unreal Engine 3. Those of you wondering why you should care about this deal, Epic has confirmed that with the addition of Gamespy’s online technology, Unreal Tournament III will be able to support cross-platform gaming between the PlayStation 3 and PC platforms.

"BRISBANE, Calif. – August 15, 2007 – IGN Entertainment’s GameSpy, a leader in multiplayer and online gaming technology, and Epic Games today announced a licensing deal to incorporate GameSpy’s suite of online technology into Epic’s Unreal® Engine 3, one of the industry’s most popular game engines. Under the terms of the agreement, GameSpy will join Epic’s prestigious Integrated Partners Program, and its technology will be immediately available to any publishers or developers that license Unreal® Engine 3.

By incorporating GameSpy’s online technology into Unreal Engine 3, the two companies have created an integrated one-stop solution for game developers looking to leverage the world’s most advanced multi-player technology and game engine in one package. The partnership will span both the PC and PLAYSTATION®3 platforms within Unreal Engine 3, enabling seamless PLAYSTATION®3 and PC online functionality. Functionality available to Unreal Engine 3 licensees via Gamespy will include cross-platform gameplay, communication tools and competition applications." - Gamespy / Epic Games press release excerpt as reported at Kotaku

I mentioned in a previous article that the PS3 version of UT3 keeps looking better and better, and this little bit of news certainly continues that trend. Between the points I highlighted in that initial article, this announcement and recent statements by Epic Games VP Mark Rein regarding disc space issues with the Xbox 360 version, the choice to purchase the PS3 version over the 360′s is really beginning to look like a no-brainer.

Those of you looking to for the full text of yesterday’s press release should head over to Kotaku via the below link.

August 16th, 2007

MAME V.118U2 RELEASED

The updates continue on the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, as version .118u2 is now available for download. This update makes a few changes to DIP switch adjustments and introduces a new command line control which will allow users to specify the playback speed of the emulator. According to the development team, this new control should help solve audio playback issues with monitors running at 60Hz.

Bottom line here is if your monitor’s max refresh rate is 60Hz and you’ve been having audio issues, you may want to consider upgrading to this build – beyond that, your best bet is to stick with your current installation until the next full release. As always, those of you interested in testing this build for the dev team should download the update and then head on over to MAME Testers to find out how to get started.

The updated emulator files can be found at the official MAME development page at Mamedev.org. You can Click here to see the full list of what’s new in this update.

  • MAME – Official website
  • MAMEDev – Official site of the MAME development team
August 15th, 2007

XBOX LIVE ARCADE WEDNESDAYS – HEXIC 2 & ECCO THE DOLPHIN

The Xbox Live Arcade returns to it’s two-a-week release format with today’s launch of Hexic 2 and Ecco the Dolphin. I can’t say that I’m particularly enthused about either release, as the original Hexic HD (as included on the Xbox 360 HD) bored me to tears – and while I was a huge Sega Genesis fan back in the day, Ecco was a title that would not even rank in my top 25 titles for that system.

That said, I will admit to being completely unaware that Alexey Pajitnov was behind Hexic until I read it in the Xbox.com product description for the game. I guess if you’re going to be a puzzle game and have a pedigree, Pajitnov’s name is the one to have. It’s not going to make me buy the game – or probably even try the demo – but it at least made me think twice. (Mind you, I’m not saying Hexic 2 is going to be a bad game, I’m just saying it’s not my kind of game – if you enjoyed the original Hexic, you’ll probably want to download the trial for Hexic 2 at the very least.)

Title: Hexic 2
Developer: Carbonated Games
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Genre: Xbox Live Arcade
Release Date: 8/15/07
Console: Xbox 360
Players: 1-2
Full Game: 800 points ($10)
Rating: E (Everyone)
Demo?: Yes

From the Xbox.com product description;

“Building on the success of Hexic HD, Hexic™ 2 brings all-new pieces to the board and a new multiplayer mode, so you can compete with friends in your living room or over Xbox LIVE®.

The basic gameplay is straightforward, familiar, and addictive—just spin a trio of hexes to create a group of three or more matching colors, or build a formation of hexes to create more advanced pieces. Whether you want a relaxing puzzle break or a frantic race against the clock, Hexic 2 has you covered!

  • Acclaimed developer: Hexic 2 is another challenging puzzle hit from Alexey Pajitnov, the original creator of Tetris®.
  • New challenges: All-new special pieces, different formations, and modes keep Hexic 2 challenging even for the veteran Hexic player.
  • Multiplayer competition: Amp up the gaming excitement playing multiplayer on the same console or over Xbox LIVE (up to two players) in Battle Mode.
  • Easy to learn: The gameplay is straightforward, approachable, and highly addictive.
  • Stunning visuals: The game is rendered in full 3-D with stunning special effects such as reflections, glow, and spectacular highlights.” - Xbox.com

I have even less to say about Ecco as I’ve only played the original source material a few times and those brief encounters were enough to tell me it also wasn’t a game for me. As with Hexic 2, your mileage may vary.

Title: Ecco the Dolphin
Developer: Backbone Entertainment
Publisher: Sega of America
Genre: Xbox Live Arcade
Release Date: 8/15/07
Console: Xbox 360
Players: 1
Full Game: 400 points ($5)
Rating: E (Everyone) – Animated Blood
Demo?: Yes

From the Xbox.com product description;

“A terrible storm has swept the family of Ecco the Dolphin from their watery home. Now, Ecco must search for them through a vast underwater world. Danger and adventure awaits you in Ecco the Dolphin™. Use Ecco’s sonar to discover hidden caverns and unlock the secrets of the crystal glyphs. Take on schools of ravenous sharks. Discover the mysteries of the deep, save your dolphin family, and protect the world from the Vortex. The fate of the whole world rests on your fins.

  • Huge world to explore: Over 25 giant underwater levels of fighting action and puzzle-solving.
  • Intriguing storyline: Solve the mystery of the Vortex and the fate of your dolphin family.
  • Real-world movement: Knife through the waters and flip above the waves with animated motions created from real dolphins.
  • Classic gameplay: All the classic gameplay from the original console game now brought to the next-gen world of Xbox 360™” - Xbox.com

As for last week’s Live Arcade release of Track & Field, I’ve got to say that I found that the game was actually easier to play using the 360′s controller as opposed to the original arcade controls – at least as far as the demo events went. Ultimately, while it was a nice blast of nostalgia for a little while, the demo never convinced me that it was worth shelling out even $5 for. It was one of those games that had I purchased, I knew would have just wound up sitting on my hard drive collecting dust.

The only thing at this point that could change that decision for me would be if several friends grabbed the game and a genuine competition started over the event scores. Yeah, I’m a bit of a nut about that – it still pisses me off whenever I see that I’ve lost the top score or dropped further down on my friend’s list leaderboard.

August 15th, 2007

XBOX 360 BEAUTIFUL KATAMARI DEMO NOW AVAILABLE

A demo of Namco Bandai’s Beautiful Katamari for the Xbox 360 is now available for download via the Xbox Live Marketplace in The United States, Canada and Mexico. Approximate download size is 432.37MB – Roll on!

August 14th, 2007

LAZY DAY TRAILERS: HEAVENLY SWORD: LEGEND OF THE SWORD – PART TWO

Last week we told you about a five-part animated series of shorts Sony would be running to give some background on the world of Heavenly Sword. Today, thanks to the folks over at GameTrailers.com, we’ve got part two of the series for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

We’ll continue posting each episode as they’re made available, so stay tuned.

August 14th, 2007

XBOX 360 F.E.A.R. BONUS MAP PACK NOW AVAILABLE

Xbox Live Director of Programming Larry "Major Nelson" Hyrb has announced that a free multiplayer map pack is now available for the Xbox 360 version of F.E.A.R. The pack can be obtained via the Xbox Live Marketplace in all regions except Mexico and Asia. The pack includes three multiplayer maps and weighs in at approximately 135MB.

"With this FREE Bonus Map Pack you’ll gain access to 3 never before available Multiplayer levels for your Xbox 360! Take advantage of the lush vegetation in Ecosphere to showcase your sniping skills or battle it out in a dilapidated building where enemies lurk behind every corner in Hotel. If dark spaces and close quarters combat are more to your liking, then prepare for some epic fire fights in the twisting tunnels of Sewers." - F.E.A.R. Bonus Map Pack dashboard description

You know, the more of these free map packs I download, the more I keep thinking I’m going to need that 120GB hard drive soon. Hopefully Microsoft will give it a much needed price drop sometime soon.

August 13th, 2007

LAZY DAY TRAILERS: BIOSHOCK LAUNCH TRAILER

If you just read our previous story on BioShock, you might be wondering about the trailer that was shown on SpikeTV right before the demo announcement. Well, wonder no more – fresh off the boat from GameTrailers.com, I present to you the BioShock launch trailer. Check it out below;

BioShock is scheduled to release on the Xbox 360 and Windows PC on August 21st, 2007. An exclusive collector’s edition is available via GameStop.

August 13th, 2007

XBOX 360 BIOSHOCK DEMO NOW AVAILABLE

Yesterday evening, SpikeTV unveiled the latest trailer for Irrational Games highly anticipated first person shooter BioShock during one of their shows. As Major Nelson had indicated earlier in the day, there was indeed a surprise announcement following the trailer – namely that a demo of BioShock for the Xbox 360 would be made available via the Xbox Live Marketplace momentarily.

Unfortunately, I was playing through the Stranglehold demo (quite a pleasant surprise I might add) at the time the announcement was made, so I wasn’t aware of the demo’s existence until Stix from Gamer’s Lounge filled me in on the news. I say it’s unfortunate because, by missing those crucial early minutes, I’m now trapped in the “forever downloading” section of Live. It’s been three hours now and I’m still at only 27% completed. Mind you, I’m not griping here, I’m just saying I hope I get a chance to play it before I have to go to work tomorrow.

Those of you looking for the demo’s specifics, it’s available in all regions except Japan and weighs in at an approximate size of 1.3GB. Here’s the dashboard description;

“Welcome to Rapture with the official demo to BioShock, the “genetically enhanced” first person shooter. BioShock is a shooter unlike any you’ve ever played, loaded with weapons and tactics never seen. You’ll have an arsenal at your disposal from simple revolvers to rocket launchers and flame throwers, but you’ll also be forced to genetically alter your DNA to create an even more deadly weapon – you. Injectable Plasmids give you ungodly powers: blast electrical currents into water to electrocute multiple enemies, freeze them solid and obliterate them with the swing of a wrench, or create a swarm of attack hornets from your own mutated flesh. BioShock is that rare game in which Brainpower is as valuable as Firepower. You’ll need plenty of both to get out alive.” - Xbox 360 BioShock demo dashboard description

BioShock is scheduled to release on the Xbox 360 and Windows PC on August 21st, 2007. An exclusive collector’s edition is available via GameStop.

August 13th, 2007

THIS WEEK’S RELEASES: AUGUST 13TH – AUGUST 19TH

The dog days of August are now behind us, but if you happen to be Electronic Arts things are just starting to heat up. This week’s release list is looking pretty light, but that’s because it’s Madden week here in the United States, and not many companies are stupid enough to try and launch a product against the hype generated by the Madden franchise.

As you can tell by the below list, Madden NFL 08 is being released on just about every “current” system EA could think of (with the exception of the Gameboy Advance) so no matter what your gaming platform is, if you’ve been waiting breathlessly for this latest version, you’re going to be in luck. You know, there are times I’m surprised that EA isn’t still making the game for the Genesis – it would still probably sell better than most games. (I’m Joking… kind of)

So here it is, fresh off the presses, The 2007 Madden week release list along with the games foolish enough to launch alongside it. May gamers have mercy on their sales.

  • Madden NFL 08 – 360 – 8/14/2007
  • Madden NFL 08 – DS – 8/14/2007
  • Madden NFL 08 – GC – 8/14/2007
  • Madden NFL 08 – PC – 8/14/2007
  • Madden NFL 08 – PS2 – 8/14/2007
  • Madden NFL 08 – PS3 – 8/14/2007
  • Madden NFL 08 – PSP – 8/14/2007
  • Madden NFL 08 – WII – 8/14/2007
  • Madden NFL 08 – XBX – 8/14/2007
  • Call of Duty 3 Enhanced Greatest Hits – PS2 – 8/15/2007
  • Dungeons & Dragons Tactics – PSP – 8/15/2007
  • Fatal Fury Battle Archives Volume 1 – PS2 – 8/15/2007
  • Heroes of Mana – DS – 8/15/2007
  • High School Musical: Makin’ the Cut – DS – 8/15/2007
  • Luminous Arc – DS – 8/15/2007
  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance Enhanced (Greatest Hits) – PS2 – 8/15/2007
  • Metropolismania 2 – PS2 – 8/15/2007
  • Operation: Vietnam – DS – 8/15/2007
  • Persona 3: Special Edition – PS2 – 8/15/2007
  • Prank TV – PC – 8/15/2007
  • Rune Factory: Fantasy Harvest Moon – DS – 8/15/2007
  • Combat Mission: Shock Force – PC – 8/16/2007
  • Instinct – PC – 8/16/2007
  • Tennis Titans – PC – 8/16/2007

Please keep in mind these are only estimated release dates and could change at any time.

August 12th, 2007

CATCHING UP WITH HALO 3

It’s been awhile since we’ve talked about Halo 3, hasn’t it? When last we checked in with Bungie, there was a great deal of concern that they weren’t going to be able to provide online co-op play due to the scale of the game and the corresponding synchronization issues. Well, on that end, it looks like things are going well, as back on July 31st, Kotaku reported that Bungie had announced that the game would support co-op play… four player co-op play.

“According to a recent Bungie announcement in Amsterdam, Halo 3 will indeed have 4-player co-op. One player will take the role of Master Chief, another will be The Arbiter and the last two (the suckers) will be Elites.” - Kotaku

In a recent Gamespot Q&A session with Bungie’s Frank O’Connor, O’Connor expanded on that news while also letting everyone in on a little more of what’s going on with the game’s development right now. As the Kotaku article indicated, there won’t be four Spartans running around – O’Connor confirmed that only the host will get to play as the Master Chief – the other players will play as the Arbiter and two Elite guards.

GS: Why extend co-op to four players this time? Come on, four Master Chiefs?

FO: Nope. One Master Chief, one Arbiter, and two brand-new Elites: N’tho ‘Sraom and Usze ‘Taham, respectively. Only one player actually plays as a Spartan in co-op. And yes, that would be the host.” - Gamespot Halo 3 Q&A

That news initially worried me because it implied that the Arbiter will once again play a large role in Halo 3, and that was something that I felt would bring down Halo 3 just as it did Halo 2. Playing as an alien just sucked the life out of large segments of the game. Luckily, that does not seem to be the case this time;

GS: The Arbiter showed up in the E3 trailer. How will he figure into the game this time? Will you play as him or–for that matter–anyone else besides Master Chief?

FO: We recently announced a four player co-op mode wherein one of the playable characters will be the Arbiter. When playing solo Campaign, the Arbiter will accompany you on many of your missions, this time controlled by artificial intelligence. - Gamespot Halo 3 Q&A

Let’s hope every time the Arbiter is on screen he’s being controller by either another player or the game’s artificial intelligence. With that little bit of good news tucked away, I was also thrilled to see that Bungie has apparently taken the criticisms of Halo 2 to heart when designing Halo 3.

“Player feedback largely reflected our own internal criticisms of our game. With that in mind, we set about fixing the things we didn’t like about Halo 2, reinserting some of the stuff that made Halo 1 cool, and inventing some new stuff that should ensure Halo 3 is everyone’s favorite Halo–fingers crossed.” - Frank O’Connor, Bungie

I’m hoping that means less indoor room to room fights and more of the wide-open battlefield encounters that made the original Halo special in my book.

With only about a month and a half to go before it’s September 25th launch, I’m sure the Microsoft press machine will begin it’s full on push for the holiday sales crown. It should be one heck of a ride.

August 11th, 2007

MAME32 .117.1 RELEASED

Following in the footsteps of the latest MAME update, MAME32 v.118.1, the Windows GUI port of MAME v.118u1 is now available. The same advice I gave about the latest build of MAME applies to this version of MAME32 as well.

Check out the official MAME32 page here for more details and the download links.

  • MAME32 – Official home of MAME32
August 11th, 2007

MAME32 .118.1 RELEASED

Following in the footsteps of the latest MAME update, MAME32 v.118.1, the Windows GUI port of MAME v.118u1 is now available. The same advice I gave about the latest build of MAME applies to this version of MAME32 as well.

Check out the official MAME32 page here for more details and the download links.

  • MAME32 – Official home of MAME32
August 11th, 2007

MAME V.118U1 RELEASED

The updates continue on the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, as version .118u1 is now available for download. This update contains changes to the emulator’s tilemap system – something that I freely admit I have no clue about, so unless you’ve been having problems with your current installation of MAME, I’d advise sticking with the base version of v.118 until the next full release. However, if you’re interested in testing this build for the dev team, feel free to download the update and then head on over to MAME Testers to find out how to get started.

The updated emulator files can be found at the official MAME development page at Mamedev.org. You can Click here to see the full list of what’s new in this update.

  • MAME – Official website
  • MAMEDev – Official site of the MAME development team
August 10th, 2007

PLAYSTATION STORE – PIYOTAMA

Sony has made Piyotama, a new PlayStation 3 "match the falling objects" type puzzler, available for purchase via the PlayStation Store. I know that’s not exactly the most descriptive of explanations, but I just watched a video of the game and I really can’t think of any other way to explain it. In short, colored eggs fall from the top of the screen and the player must shift around the horizontal rows of eggs at the bottom of the screen to create matches using the Sixaxis tilt controls.

Still confused? I don’t blame you one bit. The official product description listed below isn’t much help in that regard either;

"Hidden deep within the Hotai forest, you’ll find a family of playful and mysteriously colored creatures known as Piyos. Every spring Mother Piyo “PIYOMAMA” lays a few eggs to fill the forest with new colorful Piyos; however, this year she got too excited and laid too many eggs! Help her hatch the eggs before they overflow the nest!" – PlayStation Store Piyotama product description

While Piyotama may be priced at a very reasonable $2.99, my advice to those of you unsure of whether or not to purchase this one would still be to check out this gameplay video over at GameTrailers.com – hopefully it will let you know if this is your kind of game or not.

August 9th, 2007

XBOX 360 STRANGLEHOLD DEMO NOW AVAILABLE

A demo of Midway’s Stranglehold for the Xbox 360 is now available for download via the Xbox Live Marketplace in all regions except Germany. Approximate download size is a whopping 1.28GB.

This is one demo that I really want to try as I’ve been of the opinion that Stranglehold is going to be one of those games where there’s no middle ground – it will either be great, or completely suck.

August 8th, 2007

LAZY DAY TRAILERS: HEAVENLY SWORD: LEGEND OF THE SWORD – PART ONE

Sony sent out an e-mail to all PlayStation Underground Gamer Advisory Panel (G.A.P.) members advising them that they were being given exclusive early access to a series of animations and behind the scene looks at Ninja Theory’s highly anticipated title Heavenly Sword.

Quite obviously, while I may be a member of the G.A.P, that doesn’t help you much, does it? Thankfully, the folks over at GameTrailers have posted the first of five animated shorts which will serve to introduce gamers to the world of Heavenly Sword. Let’s take a look;

The remaining episodes should be made available over the next few weeks, so we’ll be sure to update the site as each video finds it’s way to the internet. (Don’t worry if you miss one, these videos are only being made exclusive to G.A.P. members for a limited time, so eventually you should be able to find them everywhere.)

August 8th, 2007

XBOX LIVE ARCADE WEDNESDAYS – TRACK & FIELD

We’re back down to just one new Xbox Live Arcade title this week, and it’s one that’s going to take us back to the arcades of 1983. Konami’s Track & Field was a bit of a departure from the norm when it was first released due to it’s relatively simplistic controls, which consisted os just two run buttons and an action button.

For those of you who aren’t retrogamers or older than dirt, Track & Field is an olympic style track game which features the following events; the 100 meter dash, the long jump, the javelin throw, the 110m hurdles, the hammer throw and the high jump. Depending on the event, the player rapidly presses both buttons in order to make their on screen avatar run and then use the action button to control the timing and angle of their jump or throw. It’s a combination that not only rewards skill, but also requires physical speed in order to post the best scores.

It’s because of this special control configuration that I question just how well the game will translate to the Xbox 360. Track & Field isn’t the type of game that’s ideally suited to a control pad – so much so that many of the home console versions of the game were made with specialty controllers in mind. Those of us with some form of arcade style controller shouldn’t have a problem, but those with just the standard control pad may face some serious problems staying competitive.

Title: Track & Field
Developer: Digital Eclipse
Publisher: Konami
Genre: Xbox Live Arcade
Release Date: 8/08/07
Console: Xbox 360
Players: 1-4
Full Game: 400 points ($5)
Rating: E (Everyone)
Demo?: Yes

From the Xbox.com product description;

"On your mark! Get set! Go! The world title is on the line and you have to compete in six events to cement your legacy as a World Champion. Race the 100m Dash and 110m Hurdles, test your skills with the Javelin and Hammer Throw, and hop to it with the Long Jump and High Jump. Global leaderboards will compare your skills to see where you truly rank in the world. Compete with up to four other athletes on one Xbox® or over Xbox LIVE®. Originally released in 1983, Track & Field was an arcade button-smashing classic, and now you can play it on Xbox.

  • Button-smashing multiplayer experience:Compete in events with up to four players in Xbox LIVE Versus Mode. Go head-to-head in the running events. Host your own World Champion party.
  • New leaderboards: Track your achievements with all-time and weekly leaderboards for high score, event results, and win/loss ratios.
  • Enhanced graphics: Choose either the authentic original graphics or the enhanced graphics including new special effects and hand-painted game sprites and backgrounds. 
  • Enhanced audio: All music and sound effects have been digitally enhanced to sound richer and deeper.
  • Achievements: Twelve new achievements ranging from easy to hard encourage you to become a World Champion atTrack & Field." - Xbox.com

As for last week’s Live Arcade titles, Marathon: Durundal may have been cutting edge when it was first released, but as with Doom, it just doesn’t stand up well to the test of time. The demo itself is pretty much all the nostalgia you’ll need. Spyglass Board Games is a title that you may want to consider if you’re looking to play the included games against a friend online, but the game is a bit too easy as a single player experience. Approach any purchase decision with that fact in mind.

August 8th, 2007

XBOX 360 ETERNAL SONATA DEMO NOW AVAILABLE

A demo of Namco Bandai’s Eternal Sonata for the Xbox 360 is now available for download via the Xbox Live Marketplace in the United States and Canada. Approximate download size is 584.12MB.

Eternal Sonata will be released in North America on September 17th, 2007.

August 8th, 2007

MICROSOFT RELEASES MINOR XBOX 360 SYSTEM UPDATE

Some of you may have noticed that there was a mandatory Xbox 360 system update waiting for you when you logged into Xbox Live yesterday. According to Xbox Live Director of Programming Larry "Major Nelson" Hyrb, the update is a relatively minor one that doesn’t add any new features to the 360, but rather is just some background work to allow the use of wireless guitars later this year.

"The only thing this minor release will do is prepare your Xbox 360 for the wireless guitars that are being released in a few months.
No new features beyond this wireless support are included in this update."
- Larry "Major Nelson" Hyrb, Xbox Live director of programming

So there you have it – move along, nothing to see here.

August 7th, 2007

MICROSOFT CONFIRMS XBOX 360 PRICE DROP

Microsoft has now confirmed that the rumored price drop we told you about last week will be going into effect on August 8th. The price cut will affect all versions of the Xbox 360 including the upcoming Halo 3 Special Edition console.

While I’m sure many will agree that Microsoft had to do something to attempt to spur 360 sales heading into the fall, I question just how effective this price cut will be. Simply put, it’s just not that large of a drop. Despite Microsoft stating that this is a $50 price reduction, when you look at the updated prices of the different models of the 360, you’ll note that the real savings ranges between $20 and $50 depending on which model you buy.

Before we get to the text of the press release, let’s cut to the chase – here are the new retail prices that will be taking effect on the 8th;

Personally, I was hoping Microsoft would also take the initiative to drop the price on the 120GB hard drive – especially when you consider that it’s in the company’s best interest (Due to downloadable content and such) to get as many of the larger hard drives out there are possible. No luck on that end though.

“REDMOND, Wash. — Aug. 6, 2007 — Microsoft Corp. today kicked off the greatest holiday lineup in video game history by announcing it will reduce the estimated retail price (ERP) of Xbox 360™ by $50 (U.S.) beginning Aug. 8. Soon to follow, Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) will release its blockbuster video game title “Madden NFL 08” on Aug. 14. “Madden NFL Football,” one of the most important mass-appeal franchises in video games, was the top-selling game of 2006 and is the top-selling franchise of the past 10 years. Only Xbox 360 offers a console for all interests and budgets.

“The fact that we have been able to keep our launch price longer than any other console while retaining our leadership position demonstrates that consumers believe in the value of Xbox 360,” said Mitch Koch, corporate vice president, Global Retail Sales and Marketing Group, Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft. “On the eve of the best holiday games lineup ever and the launch of ‘Madden NFL 08,’ there has never been a better time to jump into Xbox 360.”

Xbox 360 will enhance the value of its entire family of consoles beginning on Aug. 8. At a new ERP of $349.99 (U.S.), Xbox 360 offers an unsurpassed experience right out of the box with a 20GB hard drive, wireless controller, Xbox 360 headset, and more. For those looking for the ultimate value and the freedom to customize their console as they see fit, Xbox 360 Core System now has an ERP of $279.99 (U.S.). Xbox 360 Core System provides everything needed to start gaming while giving consumers the ability to add new features and accessories they want. Dressed in black and equipped with a 120GB hard drive, Xbox 360 Elite will be priced at an ERP of $449.99 (U.S.) for those who want the premium games and entertainment experience. In anticipation of this year’s largest blockbuster game launch, the Xbox 360 Halo® 3 Special Edition Console will hit store shelves in September with an ERP of $399.99 (U.S.). Featuring an authentic Spartan green-and-gold finish, this console will include a matching Xbox 360 Wireless Controller, Xbox 360 20GB hard drive, Xbox 360 Headset, an Xbox 360 Play and Charge Kit, and more.” - Microsoft press release

Those of you looking for more information on the price drop or the full text of the press release should check out the below links.

August 7th, 2007

MAME32 .118 RELEASED

MAME32, the Windows GUI port of the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, has now made the jump to v.118, incorporating all of the changes seen in the most recent build of it’s command line based parent.

Check out the official MAME32 page here for more details and the download links.

  • MAME32 – Official home of MAME32
August 6th, 2007

THIS WEEK’S RELEASES: AUGUST 6TH – AUGUST 12TH

Compared to last week’s release list, this week contains a veritable cornucopia of quality entertainment. Then again, compared to last week, a catbox would contain a veritable cornucopia of quality entertainment too. Yes, it’s still looking pretty grim out there.

While there aren’t any blockbusters on the list, there are a few titles worth talking about. Let’s start with Tomb Raider Anniversary for the PSP. Crystal Dynamics has done nothing but quality work since taking over the Tomb Raider franchise, so PSP owners should have something worth renting at the very least.

The Mega Man franchise will take three shots at the Nintendo DS this week as it takes the multiple version route with Mega Man Leo, Pegasus and the Gamestop exclusive Dragon. I haven’t heard much at all about this one, so approach it at your own risk.

Finally, Sega brings another installment of the Crazy Taxi franchise to retail with Crazy Taxi: Fare Wars for the PSP. Crazy Taxi hasn’t exactly been a must-have series since it’s early days on the Dreamcast, and given Sega’s track record with it’s classic franchises of late, I’d probably tell you to keep your money in your pocket until you know exactly what you’re getting into.

Just like last week, it’s looking like a good week to catch up on games you’ve been meaning to play while putting some cash aside for the fall blockbuster rush. You’re gonna need it.

  • Attack on Pearl Harbor – PC – 8/7/2007
  • Chameleon: To Dye For – DS – 8/7/2007
  • Glory Days 2 – DS – 8/7/2007
  • Mission: Combat Force – PC – 8/7/2007
  • Pet Alien – DS – 8/7/2007
  • Boogie – WII – 8/8/2007
  • Call of Duty 3 (Greatest Hits) – PS2 – 8/8/2007
  • Crazy Taxi: Fare Wars – PSP – 8/8/2007
  • Hidden Expedition Everest – PC – 8/8/2007
  • High School Musical: Makin’ the Cut – DS – 8/8/2007
  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance (Greatest Hits) – PS2 – 8/8/2007
  • Mega Man Star Force: Dragon (Gamestop Exclusive) – DS – 8/8/2007
  • Mega Man Star Force: Leo – DS – 8/8/2007
  • Mega Man Star Force: Pegasus – DS – 8/8/2007
  • Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst – PC – 8/8/2007
  • Virtual Villagers: The Lost Children – PC – 8/8/2007
  • Big City Adventure – PC – 8/9/2007
  • Inca Ball – PC – 8/9/2007
  • Star Defender 3 – PC – 8/9/2007
  • Tennis Titans – PC – 8/9/2007
  • Tomb Raider Anniversary – PSP – 8/9/2007

Please keep in mind these are only estimated release dates and could change at any time.

August 6th, 2007

MAME V.118 RELEASED

The latest version of the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator is now available. Version 1.18 incorporates all of the changes made in the last series of interim updates, including the new input system and user interface. If you were having problems with anything in v.117, this new version may be the one for you.

The updated files can be found at the official MAME page at Mamedev.org. You can Click here to see the full list of what’s new in this update.

August 5th, 2007

PLAYSTATION 3 UNREAL TOURNAMENT 3 TO SUPPORT KEYBOARD & MOUSE

You know, the PlayStation 3 version of Unreal Tournament 3 keeps looking better and better. It started with Epic Games Vice President Mark Rein announcing that mods made for the PC version of UT3 will work with the PS3 version and has just kept growing from there. The latest bit of news on the PlayStation 3 front (found by way of Kotaku) is that UT3 will also be supporting keyboard and mouse controls on the console. I can’t emphasize enough just how welcome that statement is to me.

“I checked with Steve Polge and he said that YES we are supporting keyboard and mouse in Unreal Tournament 3 on PS3. He is confident we are doing it in a way that will be balanced without feeling “gimped” for either side. We’ll also allow people to choose whether or not they want to allow mixed controller vs. keyboard/mouse games or not.” – Mark Rein, vice president, Epic Games

It’s because of all these “PlayStation 3″ only announcements that I’m beginning to think that Unreal Tournament 3 will be the first multi-platform title that I’ll be grabbing for the PlayStation 3 instead of the 360. I know not everyone has a setup where using the mouse and keyboard on a console is convenient, but in my case it is and it’s certainly a feature that I feel will help make UT3 the best experience it can be. Besides, if you don’t like it, you can always opt to only play against those who are using the same control setup that you are.

Those of you wondering why these changes are only being made for the PlayStation 3 version of the game an stop coming up with conspiracy theories as the answer is simple – Sony is allowing them to do it. Several comments made by Epic Games indicate that they’d like to implement the same features on the Xbox 360 version, however Microsoft’s testing policy, strict network control policy and vision for the 360 just won’t allow them to do it. Epic has left the door open for some of the best mods being provided on the 360 via downloadable content through the Live Marketplace somewhere down the road.

It probably won’t hurt the game’s PlayStation 3 sales that it’ll be coming out several months before the Xbox 360 version either.

August 4th, 2007

WORLD OF WARCRAFT: WRATH OF THE LICH KING ANNOUNCED

Yesterday’s BlizzCon event saw many thrilling announcements come from Blizzard, however none were perhaps as large as the unveiling of the next expansion for World of Warcraft. Wrath of the Lich King will continue the evolving story on Azeroth, as one can only guess that all the time the world’s heroes have spent in Outland has given the Lich King Arthas time to consolidate his power and threaten the world once more…

“In the cold, harsh northlands…

The Lich King Arthas has set in motion events that could lead to the extinction of all life on Azeroth. With the armies of the undead and the necromantic power of the plague threatening to sweep across the land, only the mightiest heroes can oppose the Lich King’s will and end his reign of terror for all time.

Blizzard Entertainment’s latest expansion to World of Warcraft – Wrath of the Lich King – adds a host of epic content to the existing game world. Players will achieve soaring levels of power, explore a vast new continent, and battle other high-level heroes to determine the fate of Azeroth. As you pit yourself against the dangers of the north, prepare to:

  • Master the necromantic powers of the Death Knight – World of Warcraft’s first Hero class.
  • Quest to level 80, gaining potent new abilities and talents along the way.
  • Learn the craft of spell augmentation with the new Inscription profession.
  • Brave the harsh new continent of Northrend, the icy domain of the Lich King.
  • Engage in epic siege warfare, deploying mighty siege engines to lay waste to destructible buildings in your path.
  • Transform your hero’s look with new character-customization options, including new hairstyles and dances.
  • Explore perilous new dungeons filled with some of the deadliest creatures — and greatest treasures — on Azeroth.
  • And much, much more…” - World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King product page

I was out. I had freed myself of the curse of World of Warcraft. Unfortunately, I’ve played some form of evil knight in every mmog I’ve every played, and the fact that it looked like Blizzard was never going to add hero classes (and thus, Death Knights) to the game was one of the many factors in my calling it quits. I guess I’ll have to start levelling up again. Ugh.

August 4th, 2007

PLAYSTATION STORE – BLAST FACTOR: ADVANCED RESEARCH

An expansion pack for Sony’s PlayStation 3 shooter Blast Factor is now available for purchase via the PlayStation Store. Purchase price is $4.99.

August 4th, 2007

XBOX 360 FATAL INERTIA DEMO NOW AVAILABLE

A demo of Koei’s Fatal Inertia for the Xbox 360 is now available for download via the Xbox Live Marketplace in Japan and The United States. Approximate file size is 380.09MB.

I’ve got to say that I’ve already tried this demo and I was a little disappointed in it – If the game wants to occupy the same hallowed ground as Sony’s Wipeout series, it’s going to need a lot of fine tuning and course design changes.

August 4th, 2007

SONY DATES HEAVENLY SWORD

That little taste of Heavenly Sword that Sony gave us a little over a week ago gave us may have been short, but it certainly left us wanting more. Thankfully, it looks like the wait for the full meal is almost over. IGN is reporting that Sony’s most anticipated PlayStation 3 title of 2007 will be hitting retail on September 12th. I’ve got my pre-order in – do you?

August 4th, 2007

PLAYSTATION 3 GHOST RECON ADVANCED WARFIGHTER 2 DEMO NOW AVAILABLE

An PlayStation 3 demo of Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 is now available for download via the PlayStation Store. Download size is approximately 779MB.

August 4th, 2007

PLAYSTATION 3 THE DARKNESS DEMO NOW AVAILABLE

An PlayStation 3 demo of The Darkness is now available for download via the PlayStation Store. Download size is approximately 1.41GB. This one is definitely a game worth checking out, so if you haven’t had a chance to play it yet, be sure to give the demo a try.

August 4th, 2007

ELECTRONIC ARTS DATES CRYSIS

Electronic Arts has announced that Crysis, the game that will make your video card cry for mercy, will be hitting retail shelves here in the U.S. on November 16th of this year.

This gives most of you almost three and a half months to have that break-up talk with your current card. Just remember, it’s not them, it’s you.

August 4th, 2007

MAME V.117U3 RELEASED

The updates continue on the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, as version .117u3 is now available for download. This update contains quite a few bug fixes as well as a preliminary driver for Sega laserdisc games. If you’ve already upgraded to v.117 and have been having issues, this could be the answer to some of your problems. If you’re not experiencing any issues, I’d suggest sticking with your current installation until all the bugs are worked out. As for those of you interested in testing this build for the dev team, feel free to download the update and then head on over to MAME Testers to find out how to get started.

The updated emulator files can be found at the official MAME development page at Mamedev.org. You can Click here to see the full list of what’s new in this update.

  • MAME – Official website
  • MAMEDev – Official site of the MAME development team
August 3rd, 2007

GRAND THEFT AUTO IV DELAYED UNTIL 2008

Take Two Interactive has announced that due to "additional development time required to complete the title", Grand Theft Auto IV will be delayed until some time in fiscal year 2008.

"Take-Two is reducing its fiscal 2007 guidance primarily to reflect the movement of the launch of Grand Theft Auto IV for the PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system and the Xbox 360™ video game and entertainment system from the fourth quarter of fiscal 2007 to fiscal 2008, due to additional development time required to complete the title. The title is now planned for release in the Company’s second quarter of fiscal 2008." - Take Two Interactive press release

Take-Two Chairman Strauss Zelnick’s further elaborated on the situation by stating that the specific problems can be tracked back to both the cutting edge nature of Grand Theft Auto IV as well as the need to develop it simultaneously on two different platforms. This view was further backed up by Rockstar Games founder Sam Houser who stated that both Microsoft and Sony now have teams working with Rockstar on their respective versions of the game.

"With Grand Theft Auto IV, Rockstar is setting a new standard for next generation video games. Certain elements of development proved to be more time-intensive than expected, especially given the commitment for a simultaneous release on two very different platforms." - Strauss Zelnick

"The new consoles are allowing us to create the Grand Theft Auto game we always dreamed about. Every aspect of the game and its design has been completely transformed. The game is huge and is pushing the hardware platforms to their absolute limits. The top engineers from Sony and Microsoft are working closely with the team in Edinburgh right now, helping us to fully leverage the power of both platforms." - Sam Houser

All I can say on this one is just… wow. I’m quite sure this one has blown a hole in the game lists of many, and to see one of this holiday’s biggest titles drop into 2008 is huge. I can’t imagine Take-Two’s shareholders are all that thrilled at the moment as this announcement further hurts the company’s 2007 bottom line – one that already had taken a pounding from the fallout surrounding Manhunt 2.

Take-Two also took the time to list their remaining titles for 2007 as well as the list of games expected to come out in fiscal 2008 – as expected, Manhunt 2 is nowhere to be found on either. For more information regarding Take-Two’s future plans, check out the full press release linked below.

August 2nd, 2007

LAIR DELAYED UNTIL SEPTEMBER 4TH

In a surprising move, Sony has reversed course and announced that, despite their earlier statements, Lair will be delayed until September 4th so that several community features of the game can be properly tested. While it is unclear whether that’s really the situation or if Sony is bringing Lair back in for some control tweaks following some supposedly very unkind early reviews, what is clear is that the game won’t be on the shelves in August.

"Wow, even I didn’t see this one coming! Due to an extra step in QA testing to enhance the community features in the game, the release of LAIR, originally set for August 14th, has changed to September 4, 2007. Natural challenges that arose while finalizing the offline game to include key online features – such as leaderboards and medal systems – have led to the difficult choice of pushing back the release date. We appreciate everyone’s excitement and patience for the game and look forward to its release on September 4." - Ryan Hamlyn, associate producer, SCEA

If the game is indeed being brought in for a control scheme overhaul, one has to wonder whether or not September 4th will be a reasonable release date – after all, the game would have to go to press again, wouldn’t it? (after all, you could just patch "online" features and ship in August, but in order to change the control scheme you would have to change the game itself as customers who are unable to patch online would have to be taken into account – you couldn’t ship a game that didn’t control correctly right out of the box without facing serious repercussions)

Before any fanboys go running with this one, please keep in mind that officially the game is being delayed due to additional quality assurance testing centering around the community features of the game – the rest is just my own speculation.