Saturday, April 28, 2007

Bungie Releases More Halo 3 Info

Halo 3 developer Bungie has released more details about Halo 3, possibly the most hotly anticipated game of 2007, in their latest Weekly Update. The start of the public Halo 3 beta draws ever closer, so expect even more Halo 3 information to be released as fans count the days to Halo 3's launch date.


First up are some details on the recently released Blastacular Map pack. Apparently, there was a glitch that allowed certain players to circumvent the billing system and download the maps for free. This glitch was quickly fixed, and now, those who try to use this glitch to their advantage will just end up locking themselves out of the system, preventing them from downloading the maps at all, even legitimately. The Xbox Live Team is currently working on a way to allow those who have been locked out the chance to download the new maps again.

Second, new details have been released about the upcoming Public Beta. The “Saved Films” feature, elaborated upon in the recently released Video Documentary is slated to be included, albeit in a very limited form, in the public Beta. The final version of the saved films feature set to be included is said to be “pretty amazing”. The Beta build itself is said to be very close to finished, in preparations for its May 16th launch. Another tidbit of information revealed is that split screen multiplayer is said to be included in the beta, but will be limited to just two players simultaneously.

Third, Bungie debunked a few rumors that had been swirling recently, with the biggest of these being that Microsoft was forcing them to make the game run in native 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second. Bungie says that it is unrealistic to expect that the game can run at these specifications with all the action that will appear onscreen at any given time. The game will support 1080p resolution on the Xbox 360 Elite, utilizing the console’s internal scaler.


Finally, Bungie elaborates on Halo 3’s new revamped control scheme. Providing us with a picture of the new control scheme for players to grow accustomed to before the Halo 3 Beta. Of course, Bungie is quick to point out that this control scheme is subject to change before the final release.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Pokémon Pearl First Impressions

Pokémon Pearl begins as many other Pokémon games have in the past. The Professor gives a short speech, giving you a glimpse into the world of Pokémon that you will soon be entering. You are given the opportunity to name your character and your character’s close friend. After finishing this and the Professor’s brief speech, the game begins.

You begin the game in your room watching a television show. The layout of the room itself is very similar to past games in the series, as it includes a television, a bed, a PC, and a famous Nintendo videogame console, this time being the Nintendo Wii. From here, you venture downstairs and after bidding farewell to your mother, you head over to your friend’s place to begin an adventure.

Together you head off towards a nearby lake and bump into the Professor and his assistant, whose gender will be the opposite of yours. There’s no time to get acquainted with either of the two as they are quickly on their way, so quickly in fact that the Professor leaves behind his briefcase in the tall grass. Of course, being the good Samaritans that you are, you and your friend venture into the tall grass to retrieve it. Immediately upon reaching the briefcase, the two of you are attacked, and forced to each choose from three Pokéballs from inside the professor’s briefcase to defend yourselves, choose wisely.

The battle itself shows off many of the new touch screen centric battle interface. Familiar actions such as ordering your Pokemon to attack to using a Pokéball from your bag are mapped to the touch screen and easily accessible. The interface is familiar, but intuitive, and easy to get into. The battle animations are immediately much more dynamic and exciting to look at than those of previous games, adding much visual flair to the battles.

Upon returning the briefcase to the Professor, he commends your battling skills and allows you to keep the Pokémon you chose. In addition, he gives you your Pokédex, only asking that you record data on as many Pokémon as you can during the course of your journey.

After you return home, your mother has a pair of running shoes for you which allow you to traverse the world more quickly. In addition, she has a parcel that she would like you to deliver to your friend who has, unsurprisingly, rushed off on his own and forgotten. When you reach him in a nearby town, it turns out that he has received two town maps and gives you the extra. Your new town map is very helpful for getting to know the vast region of Sinnoh you will soon be exploring.

After your friend departs in his usual abrupt manner, you run into the Professor’s assistant again, who decides to be your mentor. They help you find your way around town, showing you key locations and how to catch a Pokémon. This tutorial is mandatory, so it may come off as a bit of a bore to series vets. After the tutorial is completed, you’ll be gifted with five Pokéballs.

Within the first hour of play, it’s clear that this is a very worthy addition to the Pokemon series. The DS specific elements are already very intriguing and there’s certainly much more to discover upon delving deeper into the game. While nothing so far is drastically different from previous games in the series, the easily accessible gameplay has been proven to be a winner so not much needs to be changed or enhanced. At the end of the first hour of play I was left with the feeling that this would be a deeper and more engaging experience than ever before and I’ll have much more to say about that in my official review.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Playstation 3 Updated to Firmware 1.70

As of April 18th, Playstation 3 owners can now update their Playstation 3’s firmware to 1.70, which adds a few additional functions to the Playstation 3’s already rich feature set. The most notable of additions is the ability to play downloaded Playstation 1 titles on the Playstation 3.

Previously, PS1 titles downloaded from the Playstation Network had only been playable on the Playstation Portable system. As of now, previously downloaded titles are still only playable on the PSP, but beginning on April 26, 2007, Sony will begin releasing Playstation titles that are compatible with both the PSP and PS3.

It has also been explained that save data will be compatible between the PS3 and PSP as well but will require your PSP to be updated to firmware 3.40, which was also released recently.

In addition, the Playstation 2’s backwards compatibility received an upgrade, which increases the PS3’s peripheral support. You will now be able to use force feedback in Logitech's GT-Force Pro steering wheel, which is something PS3 fans, particularly fans of the GT HD download have been eagerly anticipating. Also added to the compatibility list are the, the Densha de Go! Shinkansen Controller, Densha de Go! Controller Type 2 and Hori's Flight Stick 2.

Xbox 360 Backwards Compatibility List Updated

The Xbox 360’s backwards compatibility list has been updated today, with dozens of games added to the list of Xbox games playable on the Xbox 360. Many on the list are fan favorites that many have been eagerly awaiting for months such as Panzer Dragoon Orta and Jet Set Radio Future. The list of new games added via a free update is as follows.

Tenku (Japan only)
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Avatar: The Legend of Aang (EMEA/ANZ)
Call of Duty 2: Big Red One
Call of Duty 3
Crash Bandicoot 5: Wrath of Cortex
Daisenryaku VII
FIFA Soccer 2007
Full Spectrum Warrior
Guilty Gear Isuka
Innocent Tears (Japan only)
Jet Set Radio Future
King of Fighters 2002
King of Fighters: Neowave
Mad Dash Racing (Japan only)
Mech Assault 2
Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction
Nascar 2006: Total Team Control
NFL Fever 2004
Oddworld Munch's Oddysee
Panzer Dragoon Orta
Petit Copter (Japan only)
Phantom Dust
Reservoir Dogs
Return To Castle Wolfenstein
Rugby League 2
Sengoku Warriors (Japan only)
Sonic Riders
Soul Calibur 2 UPDATED
Spider-Man 2
Star Wars: Republic Commando
Street Fighter Anniversary Collection
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07
Tony Hawk's Underground
Ultra Bust a Move /ULTRA Pazzle Bobble
Unreal Championship 2

This list can also be viewed at Major Nelson’s website and a complete list of all games backwards compatible with the Xbox 360 is available at

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

PRESS RELEASE: Microsoft Announces Xbox 360 Elite

REDMOND, Wash. — March 27, 2007 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the upcoming availability of Xbox 360™ Elite, a new model of the video game and entertainment system that will include a 120GB hard drive, a high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) port, a high-definition cable, and a premium black finish for the console, wireless controller and Xbox LIVE® headset. Xbox 360 Elite has enough space for a library of Xbox LIVE Arcade games and thousands of songs, as well as downloadable high-definition TV shows and movies available on Xbox LIVE Marketplace. The new 120GB hard drive also will be sold as a stand-alone accessory to give current Xbox 360 owners greater choice and flexibility in their games and entertainment experience. Additional Xbox 360 Elite accessories, such as the black Xbox 360 Wireless Controller, Xbox 360 Play & Charge kit and the Xbox 360 rechargeable battery, will be available separately. The Xbox 360 Elite and its accessories are expected to begin arriving in U.S. stores on April 29.

“Today’s games and entertainment enthusiast has an insatiable appetite for digital high-definition content,” said Peter Moore, corporate vice president for the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. “Xbox 360 Elite’s larger hard drive and premium accessories will allow our community to enjoy all that the next generation of entertainment has to offer.”

Distinguished by its black finish and signature metallic detailing, Xbox 360 Elite will have an estimated retail price1 of $479.99 (U.S.) and will come packed with components and accessories for the ultimate high-definition entertainment experience:2

• Xbox 360 Elite console. The console is equipped with a premium black finish and three powerful core processors capable of producing the best in HD entertainment (up to 1080p), 16:9 cinematic aspect ratio, anti-aliasing for smooth textures, full surround sound, HDMI output and DVD playback with upscaling capabilities right out of the box.

• Xbox 360 120GB hard drive. The 120GB detachable hard drive allows gamers to save their games and store television shows, movies, music, pictures, trailers, levels, demos and other content available from Xbox LIVE Marketplace.3 The hard drive is sold separately for an estimated retail price of $179.99 (U.S.).

• Xbox 360 Wireless Controller (black). This award-winning, high-performance wireless controller, now in black, features the Xbox® Guide Button for quick, in-game access to friends and music. It has a range of up to 30 feet and a battery life of 30 hours on two AA batteries. It is sold separately for an estimated retail price of $49.99 (U.S.).

• Xbox 360 headset (black). Now available in black, the headset lets gamers strategize or trade taunts while playing games and send voice messages to friends on Xbox LIVE.

• Xbox 360 HDMI cable. New to Xbox 360, HDMI allows consumers to get HD video (up to 1080p) and multichannel surround sound, all from one cable.

• Xbox LIVE Silver Membership. With this, gamers can chat with friends online, collect achievements and gamerscores, send and receive voice and text messages, and access Xbox LIVE Marketplace content such as game demos, HD movies and TV, as well as the best in downloadable games from Xbox LIVE Arcade.

• One-month subscription to Xbox LIVE Gold. An Xbox LIVE Gold Membership provides a complete online entertainment experience. Those who subscribe to this premium service can engage in competitive online multiplayer matches, tailor their matchmaking via feedback and accomplishments, chat with more than one person at a time, and take advantage of unique privileges in the Xbox LIVE Marketplace and Xbox LIVE Arcade.

The following accessories for the Xbox 360 Elite console will only be sold separately:

• Xbox 360 Play & Charge kit. Complete with a charging cable and a black rechargeable battery pack, the Xbox 360 Play & Charge kit allows gamers to recharge their Xbox 360 Wireless Controller without interrupting their gameplay. It is sold separately for an estimated retail price of $19.99 (U.S.).

• Xbox 360 rechargeable battery (black). The rechargeable battery pack provides more than 25 hours of gameplay per charge. It is sold separately for an estimated retail price of $11.99 (U.S.).

About Xbox 360

Xbox 360 is the most powerful video game and entertainment system, delivering the best games, the next generation of the premier Xbox LIVE online gaming network and unique digital entertainment experiences that revolve around gamers. Xbox 360 has a catalog of more than 160 high-definition games and is available in 37 countries. More information can be found online at

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

1 Prices stated are estimated retail prices; actual retail prices may vary.

2 Total retail value: more than $600 (U.S.)

3 TV and movie downloads available only in the U.S.

Microsoft, Xbox 360, Xbox LIVE and Xbox are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft® Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at