When Halo: Reach launched, the future of the Halo games became rather uncertain. Sure, we knew that Microsoft had formed 343 Industries to shepherd the series now that Bungie was moving on from the games that made them famous, but there were still doubts as to whether 343i had the chops to take over. Their first video game effort didn’t come until 2011 with the re-release of Halo: Combat Evolved. While it was a nice update to this classic game, it was still just standing on the shoulders of giants.
Leading up to Halo 4 you could kind of sense the uncertainty surrounding it. An unproven studio with Microsoft’s most valuable franchise making a game that promised to uphold everything Halo stood for? 343i was in a tricky position, because if they played it too close to Bungie’s territory they’d be looked down on and if their Halo was wildly different, the backlash would have been immense. They needed to strike a balance between making a Halo game while at the same time moving it in an entirely new direction. Now that the game is finally out, have they become the Reclaimers to Bungie’s Forerunners?
While Halo 4 is a still a few days out, the review embargo for the game lifted in the wee hours of the morning. I remarked on Twitter the other day that removing the embargo for the game so far in advance of its release meant that Microsoft and 343 Industries must have been plenty confident in their product.
Turns out that they have every right to be, because Halo 4 is cleaning house when it comes to reviews. The reviews I’ve read for the game so far have been glowing, and have maxed out my hype meter. I’ve tried to restrain myself, but the critics haven’t been able to and it’s kind of infectious. Here’s a sampling of some of the scores:
So yeah, Halo 4 has apparently ousted Bungie is the minds of the reviewers. While Bungie’s legacy will always remain, I’m happy to see that 343 Industries has managed to carve out their own territory within this well-worn franchise.
The only negative aspect of Halo 4 that I’ve heard about is that some parts of the story might be a bit too complex for people who haven’t read Greg Bear’s Forerunner Trilogy and the plot relies a little too heavily on hidden terminals for backstory. I haven’t read those books myself, but I always enjoy item hunting and as long as the combat is tight, I’ll forgive them this one misstep.
Now that the review scores are out in the wild, how is your excitement for Halo 4 faring? Reaching a fevered pitch? Has it perhaps chipped away at your armored resolve not to get the game?
Klei Studio’s (the folks behind Shank) new 2D stealth platformer Mark of the Ninja was released on September 7 and when I bought it yesterday it took me at least five minutes and six addition screens (I counted) to get from my ad-infested Xbox dashboard to a page where I could actually buy the dang game. Given that Mark of the Ninja is being lauded critically and is an Xbox LIVE exclusive for the time being, you’d think that Microsoft would be promoting that game on at least the front of the games tab.
But alas, there is not a single mention of Mark of the Ninja until you go to the game’s specific page and buy it. That’s a damn shame, considering that it’s pretty incredible. If you have no idea what this game is, here’s a quick gameplay video for Mark of the Ninja (we really need some more video content around here, don’t we?) which should give you the gist of what it’s all about.
I played it for a couple of hours last night and I’m already in love with it. The game’s visual style is really eye-catching while being informative at the same time: if your character is black, he’s hidden, and if he’s in color, he’s not. This also applies to the various guards you’ll be slicing, letting you know if the body of your latest victim is in plain sight or not. Stealth is also a lot of fun, this being the first game to really do it right for me since Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. You have so many options to be a badass ninja, from hanging from the ceiling to traveling through vents to pausing time in midair to throw your noise maker to distract a guard before you land behind him and shove your sword through his neck.
If you’re hesitant about the 15 dollar price tag, at least download the demo and try it out; chances are you’ll be hooked. Personally, I think everyone should buy this game, if only to shove Microsoft’s poor marketing back in their face. Has anyone played Mark of the Ninja? What do you think of it? Any thoughts on the hoops I had to jump through to find the game?
Hey, it’s been a while guys, but I’ve been busy with…stuff. Let’s not look to closely at my flimsy excuse, and rather take a gander at the new Halo 4 ViDoc from 343 Industries, which is, in a word, hot. Halo 4 is looking pretty good, and this new trailer does an adequate job of building the hype.
After 343′s attempts at cracking Halo into other mediums, I was a little concerned that they would have the chops to pull off a sequel to Bungie’s blockbuster series, but my fears are being slowly put to rest. I’ll reserve my final judgement for when I actually play the damn thing, but for now consider me on board. What do you guys think of Halo 4? Is this a must have?
The story behind FEZ’s patch is a strange one. First it gets put on the Xbox LIVE Marketplace, then it gets taken down because it caused people to lose their save file. Can’t have that, so back the patch went to Polytron for more testing and re-working. Then, nothing. No word on the patch or whether it was even coming back out.
That changed today when Polytron did a post on their blog saying the the FEZ patch is back online, but it’s the same one that caused people to lose their save in the first place, no changes, no nothing. So if the patch deletes saves, what the heck happened?
Turns out that Microsoft was too big of a hurdle to get a new patch going, so the fellas at Polytron just decided to give up the ghost. Micrsoft wanted Polytron to pay upwards of ten thousand dollars to re-certify the patch, and for a small indie company that just wasn’t going to happen.
According to the blog post, Polytron’s relationship with Microsoft is a one-way street with the money traveling in the wrong direction. Polytron apparently had to pay Microsoft to get FEZ out on XBLA, so they’re dropping their support for the title. Had the game been released on Steam, they said, patches would flow like a mighty river, but no such luck there.
Polytron is confident that for 99% of the FEZ players out there, this will make their experience better. For the 1%, well, they’re truly sorry and they wish things were different. What do you guys think? Does Microsoft really have Polytron over a barrel? Is it ridiculous for Polytron to pay Microsoft for publishing and re-certification? Why don’t they just release FEZ on Steam already? Go!
It’s E3 time! Microsoft had the task of kicking things off for us this year so we start with the Big M. Below are my instant reactions as I watched the press conference unfold:
Halo 4 will kick off the show. After ending the show with it last year, MS obviously doesn’t want to make us wait any longer than necessary. But what will end the show? My money’s on a sequel to Blinx.
Live action trailer for Halo 4. Pretty bad-ass. Pretty cheesy. A ship designed to discover new worlds. Looks like something went wrong. Oh, they are crashing on the Chief’s planet. Interesting.
Gameplay! Looks like Halo. The planet is a vibrant green, lots of foliage. Looks cool. Grunts. Covenant. An Elite just disintergrated. Weird. New enemies are attacking. Some new robot thing that reminds me of General Grievous popped out. Cortana says it is Forerunner design.
Some cool ass new weapon is tearing these things up. Daddy like.
Infrared visor! Nice! Metroid Prime meets Halo.
Clips of lots of stuff, like Warthogs, Cortana going batshit and a tagline: An Ancient Evil Awakens.
Come November, Xbots everywhere will be celebrating the original console’s 10th anniversary. The Xbox was the console that nobody thought would work, as Microsoft was stomping into territory completely dominated by Nintendo and Sony, and to some extent, Sega. Who would have thought that 10 years from now, they’d be neck-and-neck with the big dogs of the video game world?
To prepare for this event, VG247 has actually done a pretty cool retrospective on the system’s origins, titled The XBox Story. It’s a four-part series that looks at the conceptualization, greenlighting, marketing and launch. They really did their homework, and the whole thing is fascinating. Really interesting in particular is the way they first devised it as an answer for PC gaming.
I confess that I was one of those people that doubted the XBox’s staying power when it first came out. I was eventually swayed by Knights of the Old Republic, and later Halo. While this generation still doesn’t give me much of a favorite at the moment in terms of consoles, I’m overall impressed with the 360 and the job Microsoft has done. We’ll see what it does in the future.
So what do you guys think of the 10th anniversary of the XBox? What are some of your favorite games on either console? What do you think of the retrospectives?
Another April Fool’s has come and gone, and it is now safe to use the Internet for “tru facts”, as it were. As such, I present to you the first official post-April Fool’s story, a little tale about two-man indie developer Team Meat and their battles with Microsoft in bringing Super Meat Boy to Xbox LIVE Arcade.
In a recent issue of Game Developer Magazine (transcribed by Kotaku), one half of Team Meat, Edmund McMillen, waxes about the trials and tribulations faced by himself and his partner Tommy Refenes.
Aside from a few complaints that have really nothing to do with Microsoft (such as financial hardship brought on by emergency surgery), the duo experienced some difficulties getting the game ready for the Game Feast promotion on XBLA. They describe being in a forced crunch necessitated by the short release window brought on by the promotion which was clashing with their desire to add more features to the game. Fixing bugs at the same time as adding new things to the game meant that hours of hard work were rendered invalid by having more errors crop up on top of the ones they already fixed.
Here at GamerSushi, we try to stay above the fray and out of the trenches of the massive fanboy flame wars currently raging all across the vast plains of cyberspace. That’s not to say that we don’t have our own preferences about systems and games and such, but I think we all truly wish success for all of the platforms. Except for the Kinect. And no amount of fervor can help the PSP. But I digress…
Sadly, we are the vast minority, our cries for equality and fairness bludgeoned by the maces of Microsoft fanboys, severed by the Sony swordsmen and bullied by the noogies of Nintendo nuts. Oh, and punctured by the PC polearms. Whew. Had to stretch that one out a bit. Anyhoo, I know we all have that one segment of the gamer population that just grates our nerves, so I thought I would take a poll and find out who is the biggest offender.
Please elaborate in the comments, but try to be respectful. We’re all friends here and just because someone likes something more than you do doesn’t make them evil. Just misguided!
Get your fanboy hats on, folks, because it looks like the rumored HD remake of Halo: Combat Evolved that I posted about back in November is the real deal. Joystiq, citing an unamed source, has learned that the game that kick-started Bungie’s rise to power and revolutionized First Person Shooters on the console is getting remade in High Definition with new art assets.
We’re not just talking about a tuned up re-release, no sir. This game is using an entirely new engine (Joystiq claims that the engine behind Reach is not powering this remake, contrary to popular belief), and is being made by Saber Interactive. The game will support 1080p and 3D as well, if that’s your thing. Multiplayer is still being worked out, but the game is confirmed to have online co-op (the original shipped with split-screen two player co-op).
Furthermore, this remake is apparently one of two Halo games under the 343 Industries banner, so expect more news from the Halo front. For a release date, we’re looking at November 15, 2011, ten years after the original launch of Halo: Combat Evolved.
On an unofficial note, that makes me feel really old, because that will mean I was 14 when the original Halo came out. Are you guys excited about a Halo: Combat Evolved HD remake? Nervous? Nauseous? Go!
We all knew that Microsoft had deep pockets, but I would have never pegged them as the kind to go hog wild with their limitless font of cash. Apparently I was wrong in that assumption, because the software giant has pledged half a billion dollars to promote Kinect, the controller-free peripheral launching November 4 for the Xbox 360.
According to the New York Post, Microsoft began planning the multifaceted launch of Kinect almost 18 months ago with the help of Stephen Spielberg. With such a large amount of money dedicated to getting Kinect on everyone’s minds, we can expect to see the little black sensor pop everywhere from soda cans and magazines to the TV shows Glee and Dancing with the Stars. All this is going towards getting Kinect in the minds of parents for the upcoming holiday season, where it will be squaring off against the Wii and Sony’s newly launched Move controller.
If you thought the ad campaigns for Halo 3 or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 got annoying leading up to launch, just wait until you can’t round a corner without seeing Kinect. To be fair, we’re not really the target audience for the sensor, but I’m sure there will be some “core” gamers out there picking it up.
I think this makes it more than clear that Microsoft is in love with the technology behind Kinect, and they’re really throwing the whole Xbox division behind it. Now, I don’t consider technically consider myself a Microsoft fanboy, but I’m kind of worried what the possible failure of Kinect will do to the console. While I think that Microsoft can take the hit overall, we may see the end of the Xbox if this doesn’t work. Half a billion is a lot of money, even if it is just a drop in the bucket for Microsoft.
This kind of news is just begging for your comments, so let us know what you think! Can half a billion guarantee a good showing for Kinect this holiday? Will a possible failure spell doom for future versions of the Xbox?
Ah Fable 3, the black sheep of the Microsoft exclusive lineup. Not as successful as Gears of War or Halo, you still manage to maintain a certain presence within the gaming community despite your continued over-promising. Broken dreams of a fully realized world aside, Fable still has enough clout to make a major debut this holiday season, and we’ve got a new trailer to celebrate the impending release. The launch video for Fable 3 chronicles the overthrow of the current, presumably evil, King by you, his brother. Worst family ever.
I kind of like the stylish presentation of the trailer, and I am anticipating being the King of Albion after busting my hump to save it in the past two games. Time for this faux-British fantasy world to start paying dividends (oh, and friends list baby making). Anyone here getting Fable 3, or is this one we’re passing on in this stuffed holiday season? Saving it for later? Anyone getting it on PC? The game hits the Xbox 360 on October 26.
Those of you who were looking to continue the adventures of Marcus Fenix and pals in April of 2011 are going to be a little disappointed this morning as Microsoft curbstomps our hope with this bit of news. Perhaps realizing that their exclusive fall lineup was a little slim, the software giant has chosen to move the “threequel” to an unspecified date closer to the holidays. Of course, there could be speculation that the game is just plain not ready, but the Microsoft statement pretty much says that this is a marketing decision:
Gears of War 3 promises to be the biggest entertainment launch of 2011,” the Microsoft statement reads. “The teams at Microsoft Game Studios and Epic Games have done great work thus far readying the title for release in the Spring of 2011. However, we’ve elected to move the launch of Gears of War 3 until Fall 2011 to make it the marquee title for the holiday season.
Just when we thought that Microsoft learned to spread its titles out, this notion gets dashed. While I can’t blame them for wanting a big game to shill around the holidays, this just means that we’ll be waiting even longer to cut up some aliens. Gears heads can get their fix with novel series if they are really parched, but for the rest of us, some patience is in order. So, any opinion on the news? Do you wish Microsoft would have just bit the bullet and stuck with April?
I think I’ve mentioned this little factoid on here before, but I am kind of a spoiler hound. There are very few occasions where I manage to keep myself totally in the dark about a story for any book, movie or game. Case in point, I was playing through the new Mass Effect 2 DLC last night, Lair of the Shadow Broker, and I looked up the end of the level while I was playing it. If that isn’t crazy behavior, I don’t know what is. Just to make the wait for Halo: Reach even more unbareable, Bungie has seen fit to release a walkthrough of one of the campaign’s levels called Tip of the Spear, complete with commentary straight from the developers. I’m going to try and avoid watching this, but if you’re so inclined, I’ve embedded the video below:
If you did watch the video, what did you think? Pretty interesting, or are you trying to keep yourself squeaky clean for the next six days?
Microsoft, Microsoft, Microsoft. What, are we playing catch-up to our former WTF King Blizzard now? If you’re not putting down your fanbase or trying to disguise your fairy leanings, then you’re banning people from your online service based on the name of their home town.
While this might not be an issue for most people (unless you have the misfortune to live near Lake Titicaca), an X-Box LIVE gamer recently ran afoul of Microsoft’s stringent “no bad words” policy. Typically these types of epithets are wielded on the internet with the expressed purpose of hurting someone’s feelings, but what if you’re just trying to tell people where you live. Fort Gay resident Josh Moore was kicked off of X-Box LIVE for adding the name of his town, a small 1,000 person hamlet in West Virginia, to his bio. Playing the devil’s advocate for Microsoft, they probably have a program that scours their user base looking for offensive language and auto-bans them without delving into specifics. Surely a phone call to X-Box LIVE’s customer service center could fix the issue? Unfortunately, that was not the case.
Mr. Moore was informed by Microsoft that the word gay was unacceptable in any context, and if he persisted in keeping the name of his town on his account, then his subscription would be canceled without a refund. Fort Gay’s mayor David Thompson got involved at this point, and through a series of interviews with local TV stations and the Associated Press, X-Box LIVE’s Director of Policy and Enforcement Stephen Toulouse stepped in and solved the issue. He reasons that, without context, the words Fort Gay, WV could be misconstrued as an insult. Mr. Toulouse promised to get in touch with Mr. Moore and remedy the situation. He said that keeping a lid on improper conduct on LIVE is a challenge, but he will work to set this particular incident right.
What do you guys think of this latest slip up? Microsoft is no stranger to backlash from heavy-handed maneuvers on LIVE, so this is just one more unfortunate incident. Obviously they were wrong in this instance, but is it better to be safe than sorry?
Back when the X-Box 360 launched in 2005, one of the the titles it came with was called Kameo: Elements of Power. At this point, the game has mostly slipped the collective memory of the 360′s user base, but the game’s developer, Rare, remembers. Rare just recently celebrated its 25 anniversary, and it spent a little time reminiscing about a game that is apparently a “painful” memory for the developer.
Rare initially started making Kameo for the GameCube back in 2002, but it was bought up by Microsoft shortly thereafter and transferred the game over to the then-upcoming 360. By that point, Kameo was mostly finished, so they just made a few tweaks to bring it up to next-gen standards. According to Creative Director George Andreas, the studio wished that they had scrapped it and started all over again. The game was originally aimed at the Nintendo audience, and Rare thought that the main character’s race wouldn’t fly with the 360′s shooter-centric crowd, so they fibbed. Here’s the word from Rare’s George Andreas on Kameo’s dirty secret:
“We changed direction slightly because of the new audience we were trying to aim at. We called Kameo an elf, but really she was a fairy. We tried to disguise that a few times, but it didn’t really work out. It was a game with a fairy for an audience that likes shooting and killing things. In hindsight, it probably would have been best to scrap everything and start again. And then we jumped on 360 as a launch title. We weren’t far off finishing [when that happened].”
Well there you have it, folks. We’ve been lied to all these years. This is kind of a funny thing to finally reveal after all this time, but carrying a burden such as this can be hard on people. While this is more of a amusing WTF than a puzzling one, I thought you guys would get a kick out of this. Do you have anything to say on this? Maybe it’s an over-all comment on the difficulty of breaching the X-Box audience with a new, more kid friendly IP?
Subscriptions are a tricky thing, especially in the video game industry. Thanks to World of Warcraft, $15 a month is now the standard fee for MMOs, but the console market is a different story. As of right now, only Microsoft has a mandatory subscription service (the PS3′s PlayStation Plus is optional), so they can pretty much price it however they want. Ever since the service launched back in 2002, the average price for a yearly rate was $49.99 for Americans, but as of November 1, 2010, this price is going up. The prices and the plans they affect vary across the board, but the US, UK, Canada and Mexico are seeing increases in all areas. The breakdowns are as after the jump:
Some people are persistent, there’s no doubt about that. Even when games are hidden inside Microsoft’s own fortress of code and priced at over $1250 on Xbox LIVE, pirates still find a way to get what they want. Halo: Reach, which is slated to come out in less than a month, has been grabbed from Microsoft via some skullduggery on their very own servers. The prohibitively expensive version of Reach (statue not included) was intended to be available to reviewers so Microsoft does not have to ship out box copies. Furthermore, even if you manage to scrounge up that many Microsoft Points, you still need a special download code to get it (Microsoft had done something similar with Crackdown 2, which is still not available publicly via LIVE).
While there’s been plenty of debate on this site about piracy and whether it’s good or bad, this is a pretty ballsy move even by Internet standards. Most games are pirated after their release or shortly before, but never from Microsoft’s own website. Spoiler-related threads are springing up all over the Web, so if you’d like to stay pure for September 14, batten down the hatches. Until the Cyber Police get this leak under control, there will be much chaos in the house of Xbox.
What do you guys think about this development? Are you going spoiler hunting or avoiding forums at all costs?
This is kind of an awesome little story. Ed Fries, former VP of Microsoft Game Publishing division, designed an Atari 2600 version of Halo. The game made its debut at the Classic Gaming Expo in Las Vegas this past week, where cartridges were sold for $20.00 a pop. Apparently, Microsoft is okay with this and has decided not to send the Brutes (AKA: Legal Department) after Mr. Fries.
I know what you’re thinking: but, Anthony, I didn’t go to the Classic Gaming Expo and I don’t have an Atari 2600. In fact, some of you are probably wondering what that even is. Well, fret not, because Code Mystics was nice enough to host a flash version of the game that you can play for free! It reminds me of E.T. without the suckiness. Hearing the Halo title screen theme in those old-school bleeps and bloops is more than surreal.
So hit this link to start blasting away at the Covenant in a way you never thought possible:
Bungie has a new ViDoc out that highlights the various Spartans of Nobel Team, giving you an insight into the minds of your squad members in Halo: Reach. Although the video isn’t especially long, I have to say that the character animations for Halo: Reach are much improved over the previous titles, and every Spartan in the trailer seems to have a great deal of personality. As a little treat to Halo fans, the trailer is narrated by a character we’ve read a lot about in the books, but have never seen in a game. Watch the following video to get the run down on your teammates:
We’re almost at September, so the Halo: Reach news will be coming fast and furious. We’ll definitely try to sort out the chaff so we’re not flooding the website with Halo posts, but this trailer was too good to pass up as a fan of Halo lore. I know this sort of video won’t turn anyone around who has decided not to get Reach, but what about those who are? Even more excited now?