Gears of War 2 coming November

Gears of War Hot off the press at the Game Developers Conference 2008 is that Gears of War 2 is going to be released exclusively for Xbox 360 in November. The official press release follows:

SAN FRANCISCO — Feb. 20, 2008 — Today at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2008, Microsoft Corp. provided an exciting glimpse at what promises to be another landmark year for games and online entertainment on the Xbox 360 platform and officially announced the launch of “Gears of War 2,” exclusively for Xbox 360 this November.

Providing a dramatic close to Microsoft’s GDC keynote address, Epic Games Inc.’s lead designer Cliff Bleszinski announced that the epic saga of Marcus Fenix and Delta Squad continues exclusively on the Xbox 360 this fall with “Gears of War 2.” This highly anticipated sequel to the 4.5 million-selling blockbuster “Gears of War” delves deeper into humanity’s struggle for survival against the nightmarish Locust Horde, and promises to take high-definition visuals to a whole new level.

In addition, acclaimed developer Peter Molyneux of Lionhead Studios took the stage to showcase exciting new multiplayer features for “Fable 2,” introducing dynamic cooperative play, a first to the franchise. Molyneux also announced that later this year, and before the launch of “Fable 2,” gamers can get a sneak peek at the game’s world when the “Fable 2” pub games debut as a stand-alone download on Xbox LIVE Arcade. When “Fable 2” launches, gamers will have the ability to transfer currency earned in the pub games directly to their character in “Fable 2.” This unique and first-of-its-kind experience, which can be found only on Xbox LIVE Arcade, will give the millions of “Fable” fans and gamers all around the globe the opportunity to jump into the “Fable 2” world with money already in the bank.

Tomonobu Itagaki also revealed new “Ninja Gaiden II” game-sharing features, including Ninja Cinema, which is enabled solely through Xbox LIVE, providing exciting and innovative entertainment experiences for the more than 10 million Xbox LIVE members worldwide by allowing players to record and upload their best ninja moves to Xbox LIVE.

“To our team the original game was just a tease, the appetizer to the ‘Gears of War’ characters and new style of gameplay. We were so amped to get to the next chapter, and dig deeper into the universe of this franchise,” said Cliff Bleszinski, lead designer for Epic Games. “‘Gears of War 2’ is an even bigger, better, and more badass experience than the first game, and we can’t wait to get it in the hands of eager gamers this November.”

This year, the most anticipated games will be found exclusively on Xbox 360, including the next chapters of top franchises such as “Gears of War,” “Fable” and “Ninja Gaiden,” as well as new titles such as “Too Human.”

[tags]Xbox 360,Gears of War,Gears of War 2[/tags]

Xbox LIVE getting XNA games and more

XNA Finally the marriage between Xbox LIVE and XNA has been announced. Major Nelson live blogged it from GDC (Game Developers Conference) in San Francisco on his twitter feed and promptly posted about it.

It was just announced at GDC that we are introducing a new, open distribution service for games created by the community. Games created with the XNA Game Studio will be available over Xbox LIVE. Later today, seven games created by the community will be available for download over Xbox LIVE.

Up until this announcement community and hobbyist game developers have been rather limited in terms of distribution of their games. XNA games produced using the awesome (and free) XNA Game Studio 2.0 have only been able to distribute XNA games through the paid for XNA Creators Club. An open distribution service sounds like an awesome new facility that could seriously blow open the casual gaming market for hobbyist and community game developers.

Other highlights I happened to notice on Major’s live blogging feed up to this minute include:

  • XNA games are coming to the Zune. This could be a huge leap for the Zune mobile media player that could start to encroach on the iPod’s market share.
  • There will be over 1,000 games on the Xbox 360 by the end of the year.
  • The Halo 3 community is uploading approximately 100,000 pieces of user generated content per day, that is 30% more content than all of the daily uploads on YouTube.
  • As of 2007, gaming is bigger than music on a global basis. Wow, I’m sure the music executives can’t be too happy about that, watch out film industry, you’re next. 😉

Watch this space for more interesting tidbits as they get announced.

[tags]Xbox 360,XNA,Zune[/tags]

Announcing Co-Optimus.com

I just got word about a new site, Co-Optimus.com, which seems to be the first site to focus solely on co-operative gaming on consoles and PCs alike. The official press release follows:

Easton, PA – January 28, 2008 – Nicholas Puleo, current Editor-in-Chief of EvilAvatar.com, has announced a new resource for Cooperative gaming aficionados, Co-Optimus.com.   Co-Optimus.com is your prime source in the co-op gaming world.  Co-op gaming allows 2 or more players to team up against the computer to achieve a goal.  There was almost 100 games released in 2007 with a co-op mode as well as a growing trend continuing into 2008 of developers putting cooperative modes into their games.  In fact, games like Electronic Arts’ Army of Two and Valve’s Left for Dead are being designed from the ground up as a co-op experience.  This has created a need for gamers to find out exactly what games have the co-op features they want, and gamers want to know how those games will play.

With virtually no other websites dedicated to co-op games, gamers are having a hard time finding the information they need for their co-op experience.  Co-Optimus.com fills this void by providing an extensive database of games that feature a co-op mode across nine platforms including the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii.  The site also features user reviews, ratings, and matchmaking as well as discussion forums to help find a buddy for all your co-op needs.

“Since Doom popularized cooperative play on the PC more almost 15 years ago, it’s been the absolute best way to enjoy a gaming experience,” says Puleo.  “Until now it was difficult to find information on cooperative games for any system, Co-optimus.com solves that problem.”
To celebrate the launch of Co-Optimus.com the site is giving away codes and discs for many popular Co-Op titles, including the recently released Burnout Paradise from Electronic Arts and Omega 5 for Xbox Live Arcade.

About Co-Optimus.com
Co-Optimus.com was founded by Nick Puleo, Editor-in-Chief of Evil Avatar.com.  He’s been in that role for four years and has covered the games industry for six.  Puleo also manages TheWeeklyRelease.com, a website dedicated to video game, DVD, HD DVD, Blu-Ray, and movie release dates. 

In theory it is very similar to our very our local site The Xbox Lounge. I encourage you all to go over and take a peek.

[tags]Xbox 360, co-op[/tags]

Rock Band and Drumshhh

Rock BandOne game that I’m eagerly awaiting to hit the South African local retail shelves is Rock BandTM. The game allows you to form your own virtual band with lead guitar, bass guitar, drums and of course vocals. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has ever considered buying a drum set for home. One thing stopping me buying the real deal is because I have neighbours that wouldn’t take too kindly to me making a racket.

Now the Rock Band drum set isn’t quiet either, but at least you can control the volume of your TV or home theatre or simply play with headphones on if you are worried about the noise. The special edition kit comes with all of the instruments pictured below.

Rock Band instruments

And to make you drum set even quieter, a fellow Xbox MVP has developed a novel concept – self-adhesive felt pads called DrumshhhTM which reduce the volume of the drum set by about 50%.

Drumshhh

[tags]Xbox 360,Rockband[/tags]

Free Xbox LIVE Arcade game announced

After the recent service issues that some users experienced with Xbox LIVE over the festive season a free Xbox LIVE Arcade game was announced and now we know what and when. The free game is Undertow worth 800 Microsoft Points and it will be available for FREE to all Xbox LIVE users (yes both silver and gold) from 12h00 on Wednesday the 23rd of January 2007 until 09h59 on Monday the 28th of January 2007.

[tags]Xbox LIVE Arcade,Undertow,Xbox LIVE[/tags]

Free Xbox LIVE Arcade game coming soon

Major Nelson has posted about a free Xbox LIVE Arcade game for all Xbox LIVE members which will be made available in the coming weeks. This freebie seems partly as a result of the recent Xbox LIVE service issues that users have experienced.

Dear Xbox LIVE Members:                                                                                                    

During this past holiday season you helped us break a number of Xbox LIVE records.  This included our largest sign-up of new members to Xbox LIVE in our 5 year history and just yesterday you broke the record for the single biggest day of concurrent members ever on the service. 

As a result of this massive increase in usage we know that some of you experienced intermittent Xbox LIVE issues over the holiday break.  While the service was not completely offline at any given time, we are disappointed in our performance.  I would like to take this moment to thank each and every one of you for your patience and understanding as our team has worked around the clock to return the service to a stable state. 

At the same time we would like to offer a token of our appreciation to all of you in celebration of record success for the service.  And as a thank you for your loyalty during this holiday period, we will be offering all of our Xbox LIVE members around the world access to a full Xbox LIVE Arcade game that will be available to download free of charge.  In the coming weeks we will be sharing the specific details of this offer with you. 

Thank you again for helping make Xbox LIVE everything that it is today! 

Sincerely,

Marc Whitten

General Manager, Xbox LIVE

Gamertag: Notwen

[tags]Xbox LIVE,XBLA[/tags]

Xbox LIVE Friends of Friends

Xbox 360 Just got word of a new feature that will be included in the Xbox 360 Dashboard update next week. Its called Friends of Friends and it seems to an interesting step from Microsoft into the social networking market. Basically the new setting allows users to take a peek at your friends list so they have done the good thing and exposed a way for you to control who can see your friends list, if at all.

I wonder where Microsoft is going on the social networking front. Could there be a Facebook and Xbox LIVE integration coming along next year perhaps?  Who knows.

Check out the official press release below:

Microsoft is making it even easier to expand your Friends network on Xbox LIVE, starting with the year end Dashboard Update on December 4th. Members will now be able to check out the friends lists of fellow Xbox LIVE members right from the Dashboard. With this new feature, members can find old friends or connect with new ones within the community of more than 8 million people on Xbox LIVE around the globe and send messages and game invites, as well as compare games and Achievements.

With the prevalence of social media websites such as MySpace and FaceBook, this type of capability has largely come to be expected from consumers as a means to relate in an online community.  Xbox LIVE continually seeks new ways to better serve the expectations of its members, which often result in enhancements made available for free through the bi-annual Dashboard updates. 

When the Dashboard update is distributed on December 4th, the new default setting on Xbox LIVE will be active enabling members to see the Friends lists of other Xbox LIVE members. Members who would like to keep their friends list private can take the following steps to change their settings beginning today:

Log in to www.xbox.com/fof and select one of the three options available for your Gamertag:

  • Everyone (only available to members 18 and older)
  • Friends only (available to members 13 and older)           
  • Blocked (available to all members, and automatic for anyone under the age of 13)

Stay tuned for more information about the Xbox 360 Dashboard Update later this month!

[tags]Xbox LIVE,press release[/tags]

Gears of War releases in South Africa

Gears of War for Windows cover art We all knew that Gears of War was coming to the Windows PC gaming platform and now its official. Yes it should be in stores later this week and will run on Windows XP and Windows Vista machines. One thing that is awesome about Games for Windows LIVE (basically Xbox LIVE) is that online multi-player is completely free and only requires a silver account. I understand that if you want to use the advanced TruSkill matchmaking functions you will need a gold account. Anyone care to confirm this?

JOHANNESBURG 6th November, 2007 – Microsoft Game Studios announced today that the eagerly-awaited “Gears of War” for Windows (Windows XP/Windows Vista) has shipped to retailers worldwide and will be in stores later this week. After launching exclusively for the Xbox 360 last November, “Gears of War” is now bringing the fight to Windows, featuring five new campaigns and new multiplayer modes.

With the Xbox 360 version of the game selling more than 4 million copies to date, “Gears of War” has been lauded by critics for its gripping campaign and fast-paced multiplayer action. Windows gamers can look forward to the “Gears of War” experience for the very first time, and will get to choose between doing battle via mouse and keyboard, or using the Windows-enabled Xbox 360 controller. From renowned developer Epic Games, “Gears of War” for Windows will engage gamers in hyper-realistic combat, allowing players to fight for survival against the Locust Horde, a nightmarish race of creatures that surface from the bowels of the planet.

In addition to retaining all of the content from its Xbox 360 counterpart and all previously released downloadable content (seven multiplayer maps and the Annex game mode), “Gears of War” for Windows will feature exciting original content, all-new Achievements to unlock and ultra-high resolution visuals, including support for DirectX 10. Five new campaign chapters expand upon the riveting story (including an epic battle with the fearsome Brumak.) The action-packed multiplayer offering is bolstered with three exclusive multiplayer maps – a “King of the Hill” game type.  A new game editor will allow users to develop an unlimited number of user-created levels with complete access to the Unreal Engine 3 Editor.

Players can get their hands on “Gears of War” for Windows for the estimated retail price of R 319.00, with a rating of 18V. For more information, please visit http://gearsofwar.com/news/.

* Games for Windows LIVE is supported to deliver online matchmaking for LIVE members.

[tags]Gears of War,South Africa[/tags]