Games With Gold

This isn't my photo. Go here for the original: http://www.videogamesblogger.com/2013/06/18/2-free-xbox-360-games-a-month-for-gold-subscribers.htm

If “Games with Gold” doesn’t sound familiar to you, it will now. This is the name of Microsoft’s newest Xbox Live program, and it benefits every single Xbox Live Gold user. Basically, throughout the rest of the year, they will be giving away 2 free games per month. The first game of each month will be given out on the 1st through the 16th, and then the 2nd will be given out during the 2nd half of the month.

The first game currently being given away is called Defense Grid, and it’s an Xbox Live Arcade game. It’s a tower defense game that can be surprisingly difficult at times. I played through the story mode for a couple days and I actually had some trouble beating some of the levels. So if you like tower defense games, I would definitely recommend it, and even if you don’t like tower defense games, download it anyways!!! It’s absolutely free. If anything you’ll get some free gamerscore out of it.

This is not my photo. Go here for the original: http://nukoda.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/defense-grid-logo.png

Not the greatest game in the world, but it’s free, so you definitely won’t hear me complaining.

Not all of the games being released will be XBLA titles. For instance, they’ve stated that some of the games being released down the line include Assassin’s Creed 2 and Halo 3. Sure, they’re older games, but you can’t really complain when they’re free.

So, if you haven’t turned on your Xbox in a while, go ahead and turn it on and start downloading! Clear some old games off of your hard drive and make room for some new ones. You should see an advertisement for it right on your main dashboard, but if you don’t, go to the games tab and look at the featured section. It should be there.

For more information, go here.

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

The Walking Dead: Even Zombies Love This Game

This is not my photo. Go here for the original: http://www.bifuteki.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/walkingdead_ep2.jpg

If you’re reading this article right now, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of the Walking Dead TV show. Hell, I can’t go two minutes online without seeing something posted about it. If you haven’t heard, there is also a walking dead game for Xbox by the developer Telltale Games. It has been receiving fantastic reviews across the board, and even though I haven’t played it yet, I’m going to very soon.

I’ve been waiting to play the series because I’ve been playing other titles like Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and Assassin’s Creed 3, so I haven’t had much time for other games. However, I’ve just been informed that the first episode (there are five in total) is being given away for free right now! That means you can go on Xbox Live (or xbox.com) and download it for yourself at no cost! And as of right now, the rest of the episodes are also half off! They are usually 400 Microsoft points each, or 5 dollars, but now they are only 200 points, or $2.50. I’m not sure how long this deal will last, but from what I’ve heard about this game, it is DEFINITELY worth your money.

EDIT: So apparently the half-off deal was only for a day, however I have now played the first episode and I can definitely say this is a great game. It took me a little under 2 hours to complete, so that means with all 5 episodes, the series will be almost 10 hours in total (if they’re all the same length). This is a FANTASTIC deal, considering it’s only 25 dollars for all 5 (if you didn’t get the first episode free), where most games are now sold for 60. A typical console game still only takes about 10 hours to beat, so this is a lot of bang for your buck.

I won’t give much away in terms of the story, but one thing that I want to make clear is that if you have never seen the TV show, your experience WILL NOT be affected. I have never watched a single episode on TV and I still loved playing the game. They insert several hugely intense sequences in the story that affect the episodes later on down the road, and it really feels like I’m getting a unique experience. The last time I experienced anything like this was when I played Mass Effect. This is exactly the experience I was hoping to get out of it. I can’t wait to play the rest of the episodes. If you’ve played the game at all, let me know what you think about it in the comments below.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD Review

When I think of skateboarding legends, I think of Tony Hawk. When I think of legendary skateboarding video games, Tony’s first game comes to mind (Coincidence? I think not). Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater originally released on the Playstation in 1999, and was released shortly thereafter on the Nintendo 64, Gameboy Color, and a few other platforms. I never owned a Playstation, but I definitely had an N64, and I played this game to death. It was the first game in my own lifetime that brought my gaming love to a whole new level. Mario, as well as other signature Nintendo games, never grabbed my attention the way THPS did. The difference? This game felt real. After all, I was skating just like Tony did! What more could a child ask for.

Last week, THPS was re-released on the Xbox Live Arcade for $15. My initial thought was to say no. Did I really want to spend 15 bucks on an N64 game? Eventually I said yes. The child inside of me just couldn’t resist, and I gave in. Now to present to you my review of THPS HD: The good, the bad, and the ugly. Continue reading

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

What’s Arcade NEXT?

What’s Arcade NEXT you ask? Well let me tell you! It’s the name of Microsoft’s most recent additions to the Xbox Live Arcade. Not only are they the most recent additions, but they are also the first ones on the Arcade to support Microsoft’s newest requirements for Arcade games (Microsoft is also saying that these games are the “NEXT” generations of “visual fidelity and platform-defining gameplay,” but I feel like that’s just a marketing scheme to get more sales). Before, all XBLA games had a maximum of 200 Gamerscore, and although 200 isn’t a bad amount, with the average price of XBLA games much higher now, a lot of gamers are mad that they still only get 200 Gamerscore. So to make them happy, any new XBLA games will now have 400 Gamerscore and up to 30 achievements. Personally, I’m very happy about this change because the average XBLA game isn’t 5 dollars anymore. Now that we’re paying 10 or 15 dollars per games, I think 400 is a much better number.

What games are included in Arcade NEXT you ask? Well, there’s 4 in particular. Continue reading

Trials Evolution Review

Over the course of my gaming history, I’ve noticed one defining factor in any great game. They all seem to allow me to travel through time! Well, ok, not really travel through time, but I feel as if I am. I’ll be playing a game for, oh I don’t know, 30 minutes, but then when I look back at the clock, 3 hours have gone by! It’s as if I traveled ahead several hours! I know this might sound ridiculous to the more casual gamers reading this, but any serious gamer should know exactly what I’m talking about. The last game that did this to me was Skyrim, but now Trials Evolution is doing it to me too, and I’m loving every minute of it (Or was that an hour? I can’t even tell anymore…)
You can now fully customize your rider’s clothes, along with the parts on your bike.

Trials Evolution, RedLynx’s exciting new sequel to Trials HD on the Xbox Live Arcade, introduces the player to the world of trial bikes. What are trial bikes you ask? They are light and nimble motorcycles that can climb extremely rocky and steep terrain at incredible speeds. In Trials Evolution, you will use these bikes to climb huge obstacles as you progress through various locations, with increasing difficulty as you progress. Although the game feels like it has a large amount of depth in its worlds, the player is still on a 2 dimensional plane like any side-scroller. The difference is that Continue reading

Why Xbox?

When I tell people I have a blog about Xbox, a common response I get is, “Why Xbox? Why do you choose to only write about 1 system?” I thought this was a great question to discuss, so I’ve decided to write a post about why I prefer to play Xbox instead of other systems. I’ll begin by talking about the other consoles, and then say why I’ve chosen Xbox as my favorite. Note: Although I might be biased toward Xbox, since I have played it the longest, I’ll try to weigh out the pros and cons of each. I do not hate any of the consoles, so don’t accuse me of “hating on them” like so many people do online. I appreciate any and all video game systems. After all, the advancement of video games would not spread as fast as it does if it weren’t for some great competition. So let’s begin! Continue reading

Passing The Time

Is there a game coming out in the near future that you just can’t wait to play? Would you like to get your mind off of it until it comes out? Or would you even just like to play an incredibly awesome arcade game that will literally keep you hooked for hours on end? If so, then I highly recommend you pick up Trials HD. It’s not new, but it sure is good. With the sequel coming out some time in the future (there was a release date, but then the developer pulled it down, so we don’t really know when it’s coming out), this would be a great time to see what the hype is all about. Trials HD is a side-scrolling motorcycle game, where time and precision are the key factors to completing each level. For any old-school gamers, this is basically a new-age version of Excitebike. It can get extremely difficult at times, but it is extremely satisfying after each and every level is completed. And once you beat the main courses, don’t think that the game’s over. The game then unlocks harder challenges, and there are also a lot of crazy mini games to play. This was one of my all-time favorite XBLA games, and I would recommend it to any gamer out there, no matter what skill level they are.

Achievement Unlocked!

I recently got my gamerscore above 50,000, and it feels like quite an accomplishment. There’s just something about the idea of achievements that I love. Achievements have caused me to play games in ways that I never have before. I purposely try to get every last achievement if it’s a good enough game, but I don’t know why. Why is it that I feel like I have some sort of obligation to get as many achievements as I can? After all, the points don’t really do anything. The only thing they do is show how much you play, but that’s not even what drives me. The concept of setting goals and completing them is exciting, and has kept me playing many games for a lot longer than I would have if I didn’t have achievements to unlock. However, I know a lot of people don’t feel the same way. Some don’t care at all about achievements. They think it’s stupid to “find all the hidden artifacts,” or whatever the goal might be within a given game. I think it might have to do with competitiveness. I’m a very competitive person, and I see achievements as a challenge straight from the developer saying, “I bet you can’t beat this on the highest difficulty!” or something along those lines. It’s also a competition against fellow gamers. I once had a competition with a cousin to see who could beat all of the expert levels first on an Xbox Live Arcade Game entitled N+ (I fully recommend it. It’s a fantastic game.). It was like a race, and I enjoyed every minute of it…