E3 Hangover

I’m finally back after a huge hiatus, and I’ve missed so much… Due to the fact that I was out of town during E3, I had to catch up on tons of crazy news. It seems like everyone and their mother is still hungover from the onslaught of information that came from E3 this year. Xbox users are probably feeling this the most with all of the crazy information coming from Microsoft’s corner.

There really is just too much information to try and talk about, but I do want to address a few topics. The biggest is Microsoft’s used games issue. If you hadn’t heard before, Microsoft was planning on implementing a used game fee when the Xbox One released. This meant that if you wanted to buy a used game, or borrow your friend’s disc, you’d have to pay a fee which would go mainly to the developer. Long story short, the gaming community’s backlash was so huge that Microsoft changed their policy and have now stated that used games for the X1 will essentially work in the same fashion as they do now.

Silly Microsoft and their DRM policies

Silly Microsoft and their DRM policies… (photo from Kotaku)

I don’t even know what else to cover… All of the games that were announced, other features of the Xbox one, what the competitors are doing, and the Xbox One’s price point are all topics floating around in my head. I’ll just touch on some of these briefly. Continue reading

Xbox One: My Initial Thoughts

Here it is. The new Xbox. I’m sure you all have had your news feed absolutely demolished with the new Xbox info, but let me add my 2 cents:

Can't get much slicker than that!

I’m not looking at giving you all of the information on the new console. It just wouldn’t make sense. Instead, I’m just going to go over the things that really stood out to me, starting with the hardware.

Hardware
When I look at the console, I think “sleek.” The black chrome finish is wonderfully modern and I even think the vents at the top add to the aesthetics. Underneath the hood, I was pleased, but not surprised. It has 8Gb of RAM and an 8 core CPU. It comes with a 500Gb Hard Drive, although I bet they’ll have optional bigger ones. All-in-all, in terms of processing power, it’s about what I expected. Keep in mind that the Xbox 360 only has 512Mb of RAM. That’s NOTHING in the computer/gaming world. All-in-all, I’m not overly impressed with the hardware, but I’m not disappointed either. It’s about average specs for a gaming machine, but I’m afraid that it will be outdated quickly. Even more so than the 360 did. Im interested to see if Microsoft addresses this issue.

Remember the first Xbox controller? Blegh, what a monstrosity that was... I'm lovin' this one.

Remember the first Xbox controller? Blegh, what a monstrosity that was… I’m lovin’ this one.

The next piece of hardware is the controller. Again, “sleek” comes to mind when I look at it. Not a crazy amount of changes, but enough to make a difference. Upgraded joysticks, flush battery pack on the back (That’s a HUGE one for me. I hate the huge battery pack on the current ones), better triggers that let you jump from one to the other much more seamlessly, and what appears to be a more ergonomic design.

Last but not least, is Kinect. I’ve never been a huge fan of Kinect, but now that EVERY SINGLE XBOX ONE CONSOLE will ship with Kinect, that’ll definitely change. I think this is big for Microsoft because Kinect will be bigger than ever. Now with every single user having a Kinect, they’ll HAVE to make it as best as it can be. It seems to be a much more powerful piece of tech and I can’t wait to use it.

Oh, and how could I forget! We finally have a Blu Ray player!

Software
The huge thing they’re pushing is the fact that the Xbox is running three operating systems. One for the main functions of the Xbox (starting up, etc), the next is for accessories and other capabilities (Kinect, movies, TV, etc.), and the main one is for gaming. Why do they do this? Because then, you can seamlessly switch from one aspect of the Xbox to the other. The downside? Performance might be slowed due to running all of this at once.

I like the new menu interface, and I like how it works with Kinect. The games shown were great looking, although they’re still far out from release so I wouldn’t expect them to look different by the time they ship.

Other Cool Features
This is not my photo. Go here for the original: http://media1.gameinformer.com/imagefeed/featured/microsoft2013/XBOXREVEAL/xboxguide610.jpg
1) Watching TV straight  from your Xbox. I was hoping this would happen, and it did. Basically, you plug in your TV device (cable box, satellite stuff, etc.) into your Xbox, and then the Xbox will send it to the TV. That way, you can access your guide without ever changing TV inputs. I have to say, this is INGENIOUS of Microsoft. Now you really can access anything from your console. They’ve become the medium of all living room entertainment. Absolutely brilliant.

2) Up to 1000 friends on Xbox Live. I can’t even think about how many times I’ve complained about the friends list cap on the 360. They’ve finally learned and boosted the limit. It’s about time.

3) Apparently, there are rumors that there will be dedicated servers for all games? That could be pretty huge.

4) Achievements will be ported. Not surprising, but still nice to know.

5) There’s going to be a live-action Halo TV show!!! Directed by Steven Spielberg!!! Can’t get much cooler than that.

Complaints and/or unanswered questions
1) 
No backwards compatibility with 360 games and XBLA games. This is going to sour a lot of gamers. However, I’ve looked into why this is, and it’s something that’s unavoidable due to how the console’s architecture is now running.

2) Purchasing system for used games. Basically, on the Xbox One, you can download the whole game to your console and basically validate your purchase. Then, if you sell your game and someone uses your disc, they have to pay a fee to download it to their console, and then your dowload will be invalidated on your own console. It’s a way of curbing used game sales. I’m not sure how this’ll turn out, so we’ll have to wait and see.

3) They didn’t address anything about DVR capabilities with your cable box, but I’m assuming it’ll work the same as accessing the cable guide. I just want to hear it from them.

4) They need to address the core gamers in their crowd. Sony did a great job of showing exactly how well the PS4 will process things, whereas Microsoft didn’t. In that sense, I believe Sony did a better job.

5) Price?

6) Release date? (Probably November)

7) There’s some info related to the fact that the Xbox One might have to be connected to the internet whenever you want to play, and I think this is very interesting. I think it’s kinda ridiculous to make a console that can’t play offline, but I guess we’ll see.

And finally…. Here’s some links for much-needed information regarding the Xbox One (or as I’ve now heard it being called, the X1. I like that much better)

1) PS4 vs. Xbox One Comparison
2) Used game fee information
3) Fantastic inside look at the Xbox One
4) Xbox One FAQ
5) Funny bit on how “the cloud” works
6) More awesome information about the future of Xbox Live

Xbox: The Next Generation

We knew it was coming, but we didn’t know when. Now, with a brand new press release straight from Microsoft, it looks like we’ll be seeing what the next Xbox will look like very soon. How soon you say? May 21st at 10 P.M. PST to be exact.

I WANT

I WANT!!!

According to Major Nelson, they will be discussing the future of Xbox, including “games, TV, and entertainment.” For anyone who can’t attend the event, which is practically all of us, we will be able to watch a live stream on Xbox.com as they “pull back the curtain.”

Also, for anyone who is going to E3 or planning to watch its coverage online, they’re going to be releasing even more information there during the Microsoft press conference. Sadly, I won’t be attending E3 this year. I had a blast last year and would love to go again, but I’m going to be out of the country. Hopefully I can go again next year.

That’s all the info I’ve heard so far, but if I find anything else I’ll post it up here.

Halo 4 Lanyard Giveaway!!!

This contest is now over! Thank you all for playing and hopefully I’ll have another one soon. Make sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter to keep in touch and find out about any giveaways I have!

Since Halo 4 just came out, I figured I would have a little giveaway! I have a Halo 4 lanyard that was only given out at E3 (as far as I know), and I thought it would be a nice prize to give away since everyone has been so excited about the game’s release! How do you win you ask? Well, there are two ways to enter. First, you can follow me on Twitter and retweet my official giveaway tweet, or you can like my page on Facebook and comment on my official giveaway status on there! If you do both, you will be entered into the contest twice, but two entries is the limit. Again, you have to have my page liked or follow me on Twitter to win, so be sure to do that! Thank you all for checking out my site, and good luck!

You could win this!!!

Laziness Never Felt So Good

If you happen to have the Xbox Live app on a smart phone or tablet, chances are fairly good that you’ve noticed the need for a recent update. Microsoft has just released an update completely overhauling the previous version of the app. The app’s new name is “SmartGlass.” If you payed attention to E3 news a while ago, you’ll remember that Microsoft unveiled SmartGlass, an app that let’s you control your Xbox from a smart phone or tablet. Here are some of my initial opinions on it:

The new logo for the SmartGlass app.

I was extremely skeptical at first, because SmartGlass seemed very gimmicky. Honestly, am I really that lazy that I can’t just use a controller with my Xbox? I just figured it was something that you’d use once or twice to show off to your friends, and then you’d never use it again. However, this app definitely proved me wrong. First, it’s extremely easy to use. After I logged in, it immediately took control of my Xbox. I was flipping between menus like a pro, playing music/movies (It shows you all sorts of info on any media you are playing), and even typing messages, all without using a controller. I can’t believe I can finally type a message in a reasonable amount of time, instead of taking a year to type one sentence. As unimportant as it might sound, that was one problem I always had. I never wanted to buy those stupid qwerty keyboard attachments or use a full keyboard, but I also hated typing messages with the controller. Bottom line: as lazy as it made me feel, I was really enjoying it.

Once I finished messing around in the dashboard, I wanted to see it’s integration with an actual game. I loaded Halo 4 and my phone IMMEDIATELY came up with a Halo 4 screen and displayed all of my profile info. My campaign history, previously played online games, favorite weapons, and pretty much everything you can possibly think of was immediately available. I never would’ve expected for it to be such a seamless integration, but it was. I also wanted to see what it looked like on a tablet, so I loaded it up on my iPad, and it was just as great. It isn’t simply a larger iPhone version. It is a whole separate layout specifically for tablets, and it ran just as smoothly.

This could definitely be a competitor to the Wii U, with it’s touchscreen-toting controller. It no longer has that competitive edge, because it’s one key difference, the separate screen, is no longer unique to their console. If game developers start utilizing this app, we could be seeing a whole new wave of innovative games in the market.

As fun as it is on your own, SmartGlass has great potential when you are among friends. Navigating the menus is quick and easy, searching for movies only takes seconds (pausing/playing movies will be easier as well), and if your friends have never used a controller before, they’ll feel much more comfortable being able to use a phone to go through the menus.

I’m very pleased with how SmartGlass turned out, and I haven’t seen a single problem yet. If I find any, I’ll be sure to post them up here. Oh, and if anyone uses it with some other games, comment below on whether or not it is integrated with the game or not. I’m interested to see how many games are supported already.

Halo 4 Gameplay Video & Multiplayer Preview

Note: This is an old preview of Halo 4 before the game came out. Therefore, some of this info is incorrect. Thanks for stopping by!

If you haven’t seen the gameplay trailer for Halo 4 yet, check out this video. It’s the mission that they showed to us when we saw it at E3, but they gave us some extra information about it while we watched. Today I’ll be relaying all of the information they gave to me, as well as what my impressions were about the multiplayer match that I was able to play.

I won’t give you a play-by-play article of what you just watched, but I will point out some of the important information. For instance, the first large ship that you saw is called the UNSC Infinity, which will play a large part in single player and multiplayer. Due to a new graphics engine that 343 Industries has built, the whole game will look much better. The planet that Master Chief is on is a forerunner planet called “Requiem,” and is the site of the introduction of a whole new enemy: The Prometheans (although the covenant are still present). At first, you saw the “crawlers,” as well as the powerful “knight” and his sidekick, the “watcher.” You also saw a variant of the knight called the “knight lancer,” which we were told was only one of the many variants of enemies we’ll see in the final game. Some of the new weapons include the light rifle (seen first), and the scattershot (seen second). If you’re interested in Master Chief’s new abilities, you’ve already seen one of them. In the last gameplay scene, the enemy is shown glowing red. This is called Promethean vision, and is one of many unique abilities in Halo 4.

This is the UNSC Infinity. I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more about this ship as we get closer to the game’s launch date.

Now, let’s talk multiplayer. Continue reading

Halo 4 Avatar Armor Giveaway

UPDATE: I just picked a winner for the contest and his name is James G! (@heykuda on Twitter). Thank you all for participating, I really appreciate it! I’d give you all a code if I could! If I get any other items to give away, I’ll announce it on here or on Facebook/Twitter.

So I’ve been trying to figure out a giveaway that’s easy to put together, because shipping stuff can sometimes get complicated. Well now I have a code for Halo 4 avatar armor (which you were only able to get if you attended E3), and so I’ve decided to give it away! I’ve put together a little contest, and we’ll see how it does. If I don’t get a lot of entries, I’ll change up the rules a bit, but this is what we’ve got so far: I’ve posted a picture on all of my profiles on different social networking sites (Facebook/Google+/Twitter), and all you have to do is share the picture and tell me what you favorite Halo game was! Also, since you’ve already found my site, you can just comment on here as well (but I would recommend doing it on the other sites as well)! Later this week, if we have enough entries, I’ll randomly select a winner. Sound good? So here we go! Below is a copy of the picture you should be looking for, and on the top right of any page on this site, you’ll find little buttons with social networking icons (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Click on any given one to get forwarded to my page on that social network. It’s as easy as that! Thanks for playing!

E3 2012 Summary

Where to begin… I’ve seen so much in the past 3 days. I guess I’ll just start by saying that I’ve never been to anything quite like E3 before. The whole atmosphere is just mesmerizing. I’ve had multiple celebrities walk right by me, and I’m pretty sure I was on national television at one point. It’s a shame that it’s not open to the public anymore, but I do understand why. Even though E3 only for the workers in the gaming industry, it’s already packed with people. When some people have to wait in line for 4 hours to see a 15 minute preview of a game, I can understand why companies wouldn’t want any more bodies at the even. That being said, I was extremely lucky to be able to attend.

Outside the LA Convention Center. What a beautiful sight!

My first day was basically a scouting day. I wanted to at least see where everything was, and take lots of pictures. That way, I didn’t have to worry about taking pictures/getting lost during the next 2 days. I walked around the whole event multiple times (and this is a LARGE event), and played some games as well. I played some of the smaller games with shorter lines because I didn’t want to waste my whole first day waiting in a line. I did, however, stand in line for Call of Duty: Black Ops II because at the time, the line was fairly short and I knew it was going to be much longer later in the day. I also checked out G4 while they were filming, because that was one thing that I definitely wanted to see while I was there. On my second day, I waited in the lines for the bigger games, like Assassins Creed III and Halo 4, which took a lot of the time out of my day (about 2 hours per line!). On the last day, I stood in a couple more long lines, including Gears of War: Judgement, and checked out some other smaller games again. I also tried to grab as much swag on the last day as I possibly could.

I think the best way to go about describing all of the games I saw is by putting them all as separate subheadings and putting a description after each one. That way, if your looking for a specific game that I saw, you can easily find it. Oh, and just to clarify, these games are in no particular order. I’m just typing them out as I think of them. Continue reading

Microsoft’s Press Briefing At E3 2012

From Usher performing, to Master Chief making a comeback, today had a lot of cool content displayed at the Microsoft press briefing. I’m sure you’ve already heard TONS of news about E3 from TV and other websites, so I’m just going to take this time to talk about what my favorite moments were at the Microsoft press briefing. If you think I missed something important, post a comment below!

Microsoft started of their show with a demo of Halo 4 gameplay footage. They showed some significant changes, including new weapons and an all new enemy. The next game shown was Splinter Cell: Blacklist. It seems like the Splinter Cell franchise is slowly getting more and more action-oriented, instead of just stealthy. We saw that a bit with the last game, and it looks like we’re getting even more action in this one. The only thing I didn’t like was the Kinect integration into the game. Once again, it feels like they stuck in Kinect integration after-the-fact. I mean, do we really need to yell out “hey you!” to our Kinect in order to get someone’s attention in the game? It just feels unnecessary. Another game filled with action was Gears of War: Judgement, based on the Gears character Baird’s past. We still don’t know a whole lot about gameplay, but I’ll be sure to keep an eye out at E3. Continue reading

E3 Wish List

E3 is coming up incredibly fast, and I (along with the whole gaming community) can’t wait to see what games are going to be on display. Today I figured I’d make a list of the top 10 Xbox games that I’d like to see more of, or for the first time if that’s the case. Enjoy!

1. Assassin’s creed III
2. Halo 4
3. GTA V
4. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
5. Resident Evil 6
6. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
7. Skyrim DLC
8. Mass Effect DLC (new ending?)
9. Diablo III for Xbox
10. A Kinect game that will actually make me want to buy a Kinect

I also figured I’d throw in a couple games that, although they most likely won’t be talked about at E3 (or anywhere for that matter), I’d LOVE to see them. However, if they did happen to be there, I would be quite happy (and by quite happy, I mean I would go pretty much go insane).

1. Mirror’s Edge 2
2. Half-Life 3
3. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 3
4. Bioshock: Infinite (This one just won’t be at E3. I’d still love to see it though…)
5. A Kinect game that will actually make me want to buy a Kinect

Do you have any games you’d like to see at E3? If so, post them in the comments section below! Also, make sure to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. for updates on my latest posts as well as posts on what I see at E3 next week! Just search for “xboxopinions” or click the symbols at the top right of this page!