Wednesday, March 19, 2008

One handed 360 controller redux

That crazy Ben Heckendorn is at it again. No he's not shoving an Xbox 360 into an even tinier laptop (360book Air, anyone?), but instead making some refinements to his one-handed controller. The new controller is much smaller, and also a little bit easier on the eyes than his previous model. With the right stick on the top, and face buttons, triggers, and bumpers on the bottom, it's got everything you need for some one handed fragging. The right stick, in case you're wondering, is meant to be placed on a leg or available surface, thus manipulating the stick by moving the controller itself. Pretty ingenious if you ask us. Don't go crazy trying to procure one for yourself though, as it wasn't intended for mass consumption. Ben's other one handed controller, called the Access, on the other hand, is soon to be made available to the masses.

Ikaruga achievements revealed

Oh, Ikaruga. What can we say about you that we haven't said in the past? We've dropped rumor after rumor in the wake of your pending announcement. Lamented about the wait for your upcoming HD upgrade. We've even been teased by advertisements while we awaited your arrival. Today the teasing continues as your achievements have been revealed. From simple scenarios like beating bosses to unimaginable feats like completing your campaign on one continue - your achievements are no joke. Well Ikaruga, it seems we know everything about you that we can. So would you please hurry up and release already? These 800 MS Points are burning a hole in our pockets!

Forza 2 March Car Pack is ready for download

Just an informative reminder to our Forza Motorsport 2 racing fanboys (though, we doubt one is really needed), the March Car Pack is available for download off the Xbox Live Marketplace right this very moment.

As you probably know, The March Car Pack costs a medium 400 Microsoft points and includes thirteen new cars for your racing pleasure. And since we know how much Forza 2 fanboys love their vehicles, we've added new car pack photos into their own gallery below for you to gush over. Thank us later. If you have an extra 400 points laying around, we advise supporting Turn 10 and all the hard work they've put into Forza 2 and its abundant DLC. Happy downloading race fans!

GRID screens and box art skid online

Race Driver: Grid is the latest installment in the TOCA Race Car series developed and published by Codemasters. Running on the same engine that powered Dirt, Race Driver: Grid is set in an urban environment where street racing has taken over the underground circuit.

Underground street racing? We're surprised no one thought of this idea for a video game a long time ago. They should really look into making a movie or something. Well, at least these 20 screens look good.

Exclusive H3 McFarlane ODST figure at EE

If your goal is to collect the entire line of Halo 3 McFarlane action figures then good old Toddy McFarlane is forcing you to make an action figure purchase over at Entertainment Earth (EE).

Just announced is a brand new (and somewhat limited) EE exclusive Halo 3 yellow ODST action figure that's (surprise!) only available for purchase online at EE. This exclusive figure will be shipping sometime later this October, but can be pre-ordered online for $14.99. Truth be told, it isn't a bad looking "toy", but we'd be a little more impressed if this exclusive EE Spartan was rockin' the Recon ... or a flaming helmet.

Fable 2 gets not one, but three XBLA games

After the revelation that there would be an Xbox Live Arcade game that attached to Fable 2, Peter Molyneux has now confirmed on Major Nelson's podcast that there will actually be three Xbox Live Arcade games that tie into Fable 2. For those that missed out on the news at GDC, these XBLA games will allow players to rack up gold (or, as we learned in our own interview with Peter, debt) in Fable 2. The two newly announced games are called Wizard's Tower and Mage Dice. Both games are developed by Carbonated Games (UNO) as was Keystone, the game announced during GDC. Pricing and release dates for the games have not been confirmed, though we suspect at least one will be available before Fable 2 releases.

Haze madness continues, PS3 exclusive "for now"

The Haze exclusivity circus got itself a new act today. After representatives at a event were shouting to the hills that Haze would forever remain a PS3 exclusive title, CVG contacted Ubisoft for comment. Ubisoft responded that Haze will remain a PS3 exclusive "for now." In other words, the timed exclusive theory is gaining more ground. We can't help but once again be reminded of the ridiculous back and forth regarding Assassin's Creed exclusivity. We all know how that turned out, and it's looking like Haze is headed in the same direction. Frankly, it's getting out of hand. Hence, Picard facepalm.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Call of Duty 4 GOTY edition releasing in April

For those who still have yet to jump into the modern warfare battlefield, then we advise holding off on a Call of Duty 4 purchase for another month, because a new SKU will be hitting retail shelves soon.

Yesterday, Activision announced that they'll be releasing a Call of Duty 4 Game of the Year edition which will feature updated box art as well as an Xbox Live redemption token to download this Spring's upcoming multiplayer map DLC for free. A redemption token worth 800 Microsoft points. Acti didn't mention a firm release date for this special GOTY edition or if it'll be released on any other gaming platforms. And we hope it doesn't. We're greedy fanboys who want everything for ourselves.

Next stop for Guitar Hero: The Beatles?

Help! We need somebody! Help! No, seriously folks, Martin N. "Marty" Bandier of Sony / ATV Music Publishing has officially stated that a version of Guitar Hero dedicated to The Beatles is something the company would "like to pursue." Now, we never intended to jump all over the "why isn't this on Rock Band?" bandwagon. Some music really makes more sense on Guitar Hero, but The Beatles? That just screams Rock Band. Of course, we understand why Mr. Bandier might fancy Guitar Hero over Rock Band. We imagine it's money. That's what he wants (that's what he wants). A lot of money. But just imagine all the people that could play on Rock Band (we wonder if you can). With any luck, Mr. Kite Bandier and Harmonix can work it out and come together. We just hope they don't make it bad. In the meantime, we'll just have to let it be and hope they don't let us down.

Price cut spurs 40% increase in UK Xbox 360 sales

Last week's European Xbox 360 price cut looks to have been a huge success with retailers seeing hardware fly off shelves in greater numbers over the weekend. 40% more 360 sales to be exact. Chart-Track's 40% increase in 360 sales estimate is great news for team Redmond, but the increase in sales doesn't equate to continued success seeing that the that it could potentially be the result of the Easter holiday. So, we'll have to keep an eye on European 360 sales in the weeks to come to verify its success. All said, Europe is happy to see a 360 price cut, retailers are happy to see a 360 price cut and Microsoft is happy to see a 360 price cut, because their sales have increased. Now only if they'd share the price cut love with us in good old North America ... mmm?

An Xbox Live baby is born (warning: cute)

Well that's adorable. It turns out that not only is your Xbox 360 a perfect platform for fragging n00bs and otherwise pwning the denizens of Xbox Live, but it's also a fertile place where love can bloom. Behold Victoria Marie Figueroa, the product of a relationship sparked over Xbox Live between Stacy and Mike, two gamers from Georgia and New York, respectively. The two met playing Rainbow Six Lockdown and, according to Stacy, "hated each other." Apparently they got over it.

While the story is definitely sweet, it also presents the perfect opportunity to deliver some advice: under no circumstances should you place an infant on top of an Xbox 360. Those things get hot. Also, there's no telling what kind of damage a baby could do to a 360 if left untended.

Rockstar is the key as EA gets hostile in takeover bid

Speaking to the BBC, EA chief executive John Riccitiello was clear that the primary interest EA has in acquiring Take Two Interactive is the company's strong roster of development teams, specifically that of Rockstar Games.

"The big headline here is that our primary interest is in Rockstar and the intellectual properties around Rockstar," Riccitiello said as the April 29 release of Grand Theft Auto IV looms in the distance. Sports gamers have long stated their frustration with the attempted acquisition because it would remove EA's only competitor in the simulation-sports market. Riccitello explained that the sports angle was a secondary thought, "sports games are secondary consideration here," he explained.

While Take Two had declined the initial offer from EA for $2 billion, the acquisition has recently gone hostile. In order to purchase the company from under Take Two executives, EA has put in a cash tender offer to purchase all outstanding shares of common stock for $26 each on last Thursday targeting shareholders. Take Two executives have since asked shareholders to hold out on the offer, which is set to expire on April 11 - a mere 18 days before the launch of the GTAIV cash-cow. With the news that EA is targeting new shareholders that are looking to unload a headache, this news looks to get more interesting by the day

Monday, March 17, 2008

Forza 2 March Car Pack details and events

Over the weekend, we mentioned that Turn 10 was releasing a brand new set of Forza 2 downloadable content that's scheduled to release this week. Today, we have all the deets.

The Forza 2 March Car Pack will be available this Wednesday, March 19th via the XBLM for 400 Microsoft points and be comprised of thirteen brand new rides. Masculine rides including Ferraris, Maseratis and even the 360 themed Peugeot 207 Super 2000. Complete car list after the break. Also, to give the Forza 2 community a boost and to celebrate the March Car Pack's launch, Turn 10 will be participating in's Game with Developers program and a special Play & Win will be launched as well. More event details are to come, but for now all you really need to know is that new DLC is this Wednesday ... vroom on.

March Car Pack DLC Includes:
  • 2007 Audi S5
  • 2007 Audi TT S-Line
  • 1971 BMW Motorsport 3.0 CSL
  • 2008 BMW Motorsport M3
  • 2007 Ferrari 430 Scuderia
  • 1989 Ferrari F40 Competizione
  • 1996 Ferrari F50 GT
  • 2007 Lamborghini Murcielago LP640
  • 2007 Maserati GranTurismo
  • 2006 Maserati MC12 Corsa
  • 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X GSR
  • 2007 Peugeot #1 Peugeot 207 Super 2000
  • 2008 Porsche 911 GT2
  • European Rock Band graced with exclusive tracks

    Our friends in Europe have been going through a thumb-twiddling hell for a long time now, having to somehow accept the fact that they have no access to Rock Band while North American gamers have been jamming for the past few months. But know it is coming friends and know that Harmonix cares. They care so much that they'll be including a set of exclusive tracks in the PAL release.

    During this weekend's UK festival, the crew over at button bandits had a chance to play the PAL version of Rock Band (yes, it exists) and obtained a complete track list. The list is nearly identical to its NTSC cousin, except for ten new exclusive additions which we posted after the break. Of course, we can't be sure how exclusive these ten tracks are to the PAL version or if North American Rock Band players will ever have a chance to purchase them. Knowing that, we're fine if we never see these tracks on North American XBLM soil. We'll let our fellow Europeans have this one ... they've suffered enough.

    European Rock Band Exclusive Tracks:
  • Blur -- Beattlebum (English)
  • Oasis -- Rock 'n' Roll Star (Englsih)
  • Tokio Hotel -- Through the Monsoon (English)
  • Muse -- Hysteria (English)
  • Les Wamaps -- Manu Chao (French)
  • Indochine -- L'Aventurier (French)
  • Playmo -- New Wave (French)
  • Die Toten Hosen -- Hier Kommt Alex (German)
  • Juli -- Perfekte Welle (German)
  • H-Block X -- Countdown to Insanity (German)
  • List of XBLA games that are headed our way

    With today's Xbox Live Arcade Hits announcement, Microsoft also felt the need to dangle a freshly baked cookie in front of our noses by revealing a few games that are headed to the Arcade soon'ish. Among the games listed in their "coming soon" checklist are Rocky and Bullwinkle, Shotest Shogi, TiQal, Wits & Wagers and Capcom's Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3. So, you can pretty much choose one or two of those for an XBLA release next week. We're also giving you permission to uncontrollably complain if none of those five titles tickles your Arcade fancy. On the same token, feel free to uncontrollably praise the games if you're excited for a specific title.

    Zavvi's Xbox 360 bundle is a steal

    Zavvi, who are known as one of UK's answers to BestBuy, are offering a special promotion on the Xbox 360 that European gamers won't want to pass-up. Zavvi, formerly known as the Virgin Megastore, has bundled a premium Xbox 360, Ubisoft's best-selling Assassin's Creed, the JRPG Lost Odyssey and the 9000-pound gorilla Halo 3 for the low-low price of £210. The bundle can only be found in select stores at this time, so we urge you to look around.

    To put the price into perspective, Zavvi sells the premium alone for £200 and the system alone can be snatched up for as a low as £180 on Amazon. For a few extra Pounds anyone interesting in starting their Xbox 360 library off right shouldn't miss this opportunity. Word of advice, stay away from Bomberman: Act Zero ... we made that mistake once.

    Shipping this week: roll them bones edition

    It's sort of a lonely week for new releases. It's not that we aren't seeing anything worthwhile, though. Nope, this week we have the much awaited sequel to Rainbow Six Vegas, sagely titled Rainbow Six Vegas 2 to in order to nullify any confusion. Remember, this is the last time you'll be getting your 6 on in Vegas, so get it while the gettin's good (alternately, you could wait until it goes down in price and get it while the gettin's better). Also releasing this week is the latest curiosity from Sega, Sega Superstars Tennis. Alas, it seems Sega has more trouble wedging its beloved characters into the sports genre than Nintendo does, as the game has thus far received only fair to middling reviews.

    Super new Castle Crashers dev blog goes live

    We've just been sent word that our buddies over at The Behemoth have launched a super new and super informative Castle Crashers development blog over on their official site. A blog aimed at giving fans and insider's look into the development process and the crazy minds behind one of the most highly anticipated XBLA games this year.

    Currently, the Castle Crashers dev blog is a little bare bones (it did just launch, so be understanding), but already they've posted a brief introduction and an intriguing video where we get to watch artist extraordinaire Dan Paladin create the game's world map in super fast motion. Man does that guy have talent. The Behemoth promises regular weekly updates and a behind the scenes look at the game, so be sure to place a bookmark and refresh often. We know we will, because, truth be told, we have a Castle Crashers addiction that needs to be fed. Feed us The Behemoth, feed us until our tummy hurts with painful joy.

    Assault Heroes and Doom go half price this Wed

    This Xbox Live Arcade Wednesday, we will sadly not be treated to any new Arcade releases. And we agree, that's a stinker. But there is a bright spot this week when, this Wednesday, March 19th, both the previously released XBLA games Assault Heroes and Doom will graduate to Xbox Live Arcade Hits status. And, as everyone knows, when an XBLA game becomes an Arcade Hit it means that its price gets slashed and in this case, in half to 400 Microsoft points each. No new releases is a bummer, but we haven't seen any new Arcade Hits since the program's launch in December so how could we not be thrilled for discounted XBLA fun? Remember, there's always next week.

    Nameless Puzzle Quest DLC needs your help

    D3Publisher just announced a new Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords expansion that's set to release to the Xbox Live Marketplace sometime this Spring and it's packed full of goodies. It'll be an expansion comprised of four new Hero professions, new items, new spells, new quests, new monsters, a new enemy and the list goes on and on. It's an exciting piece of DLC for fans of Puzzle Quest, except there is one tiny problem. D3Publisher doesn't have a name for the DLC ... oops.

    So fanboys, that's where you come in. How they see it, Puzzle Quest fans are a knowledgeable and creative enough bunch to name the new set of DLC in their official Puzzle Quest DLC naming contest. Kicking off later today, you can head on over to the Puzzle Quest's official website through March 21st to recommend a name for the DLC. So, go ahead and get your creativity on, help D3Publisher and make the Puzzle Quest world a better place to live. We have faith you'll do the right thing.

    Prey 2 is in development, first details revealed

    Over the weekend, Shacknews broke news that 3D Realms' mind-mending, shape shifting shooter Prey that released nearly two years ago will indeed be getting a sequel.

    According to information found on Radar Group's website (all of which has since been removed), we learn first off that Prey 2 is real and that that the game was listed for release on the 360 and PC. We also get a tiny bit of information regarding Prey 2's plot with the release of one piece of concept art (as seen above) and a description that reads; "this time, abandoned and framed for the disappearance of his family, Tommy escapes an Earth that no longer wants him for a future that cannot survive without him."

    We'll be the first to say that we wouldn't mind seeing a sequel to a game that was rather enjoyable, but we have a hard time believing 3D Realms can juggle the simple task of overseeing the development of Prey 2 and Duke Nukem Forever. One will suffer ... and we're sure you can already guess which of the two that will be. ZING!

    Condemned 2 demo still not available, still coming

    You know, the one thing that gets under our skin is when developers or publishers can't get their crap together when it comes to releasing any type of content to the Xbox Live Marketplace. To us, there is absolutely no excuse for miscommunication or confusion ... just get your crap together! And that's the exact case we're dealing with when we talk about the (supposed to already have been released) Condemned 2: Bloodshot demo.

    You see, since February we've known about a demo because told us one was already available, but upon discovering there was none, we were then informed that a demo was to be released soon. Then, last Friday, we received a press release telling us the Bloodshot demo was already available to European Xbox Live gamers, but alas ... none is available. Now, today, that exact same press release has been re-worded and re-released but minus the details about the demo being on Xbox Live already and replaced with a "coming soon" kind of tone. What the fudgesicle sticks SEGA? At this point we don't know what to believe, who to believe and whether or not the demo is going to be region specific or even rollout by the end of 2008. Get your crap together! We're officially adopting a new Condemned 2: Bloodshot XBLM demo mindset: we're only believing it's a reality when we see it on the Marketplace. Humph!

    Rainbow Six Vegas 2 deals galore!

    Tomorrow, Mr. Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2 will be available at shipping to retailers in the United States and those same retailers are trying their darnedest to lure you into their stores with special offers. So, we thought to ourselves. Self, we should highlight some of this week's best RSV2 deals. So, here we go.

    Kicking off our RSV2 deal searching fun, we have Best Buy who is offering the game for the standard $59 price tag, but is including a special unlock code for an assault rifle. Yeah, we agree ... a lukewarm deal at best. But we trudge along and see that Circuit City is offering RSV2 for $59 as well, but is throwing in a pair of red fuzzy dice and a gamer's energy kit. A kit that comes complete with beef jerky, an energy drink, some energy gum and a few other goodies. A little quirky, but we approve. Next up is Target who is also selling the game for $59, but is including a $10 gift card as well. And finally, if you have a Fry's electronics store nearby, you can grab RSV2 for the loss-leader price of $39. Analyze all the RSV2 offers, make your purchase this Tuesday week and fully embrace retailer competition.

    Sunday, March 16, 2008

    Achievements hint at new Kane & Lynch DLC

    Thanks to and their never ending search for achievement news, we learn that Kane & Lynch: Dead Men will be getting five new achievements and an additional 250 Gamerscore. The only questions we have are when and how?

    The five new achievements have been discovered via and are being hidden under the "Secret" achievements status, broken down into one 100GS, two 50GS and two 25GS achievements. We haven't the foggiest idea to what new Kane & Lynch DLC would be or who would be overly enthusiastic about such content, but if it's free or really cheap (80 Microsoft points?) we'd accept it with open arms. That said, achievement addicts would accept a 250 Gamerscore boost to almost any game no matter the circumstances.

    Saturday, March 15, 2008

    Rumor: Haze to remain PS3 exclusive

    According to, representatives from Ubisoft at the Live event at UK's Wembley stadium are telling anyone within earshot that Haze will never see life on the Xbox 360. While there have been signs that all-out exclusivity was in the works, Ubisoft had never officially confirmed Haze would only release on the PS3. Visiting Free Radical Design's official product page for Haze adds to exclusivity confusion with the wording in the features press release, "[Haze] is now scheduled for release exclusively on the PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system in May 2008." Which, based on the wording, sounds like it will remain a timed-exclusive only.

    We're waiting for the official word from Ubisoft but color us surprised if PS3 does get the exclusivity nod based on Ubisoft's past (and public) love for the Microsoft machine, the déjà vu effect of Assassin's Creed "exclusivity," Free Radical Design's use of a pull quote from the April 2007 issue of 360 Mag [German Edition] on the Haze product page and that new video of Haze writer Rob Yascombe showing off the game in the Free Radical office with visible Xbox 360 development kits in the background of the action.

    Yeah ... we think we'll wait for the press release before we call this one confirmed.

    Developed by Free Radical Design, makers of the award-winning TimeSplitters series, Haze is a political first-person shooter that explores such subjects as corporate social responsibility and shooting dudes in the face and is set to hit stores this May.

    Family Fun Fest: Baseball and gaming collide

    For gaming enthusiasts who enjoy a good minor league baseball game every now and then, we'd like to turn your attention to the Xbox 360 sponsored Family Fun Fest that is traveling the great U.S. of A. this Spring. The Principal Financial Group Family Fun Fest is an event that is currently touring the country, where minor league baseball attendees can partake in family fun. Family fun playing Xbox 360 games including Rock Band, GHIII, LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, Burnout Paradise and, of course, MLB 2K8. Again, the Family Fun Fest will be traveling to stadiums on the minor league baseball circuit through August, so be sure to check out the schedule to see if you'll be able to experience 360 gaming while attending a baseball event. We're also hearing rumors that the Xbox 360 crew is giving out free hotdogs and Cracker Jacks to all the top Rock Band performers ... but that's just a rumor.

    Friday, March 14, 2008

    GTAIV multiplayer to include 15 different modes and character customization

    PSM Spain has the inside scoop on Grand Theft Auto IV's multiplayer and color us turquoise, we're impressed already! According to the PSM Spain article, multiplayer will support sixteen players and consist of fifteen different multiplayer modes including traditional death match variants as well as a racing, cops and robbers and bomb based gametypes. We're also told that all this multiplayer mayhem will be played inside the same "map" as the single player campaign. Equally exciting is the fact that multiplayer characters will be fully customizable, including a player's race, sex, hair style and clothing. Check out the complete list of all fifteen multiplayer game modes posted after the break and ponder what exactly "Deal Breaker" mode entails. Oh and ... w00t! W00t!
      Fifteen GTAIV Multiplayer Modes
    • Hangman's NOOSE
    • Car Jack City
    • Bomb da Base
    • Bomb da Base II
    • Mafia Work
    • Team Mafia Work
    • Deathmatch
    • Team Deathmatch
    • Turf War
    • Cops n Crooks
    • Race
    • GTA Race
    • Deal Breaker
    • Free Mode
    • Car Jack City

    Sega trademarks Sonic Unleashed

    According to a trademark filing found by Kotaku, Sega has "shotgunned" Sonic Unleashed. The filing applies to "video game software [and] computer game programs." Clearly based on that thorough description the newest Sonic game will be a dating simulator.

    In all seriousness, this one can't possibly be worse than Sonic's last outing on the Xbox 360 and PS3 - we hope. Also, note that this doesn't seem to have anything to do with the Sonic RPG Bioware is working on. We can't wait to see what Sonic does next. We are so totally serious and not being facetious at all, not really. Oh, and when was Sonic ever leashed.

    Mr. Driller Online will drill through the XBLA

    Earlier today, Namco released new media and announced that their Mr. Driller puzzle series will be headed to the Xbox Live Arcade sometime this Spring in the form of Mr. Driller Online.

    Mr. Driller Online has a distinct Japanese flavor, with bubbly cartoon characters, a vibrant feel and an extreme use of the color pink. Namco mentions that Mr. Driller Online will stay true to the traditional Mr. Driller gameplay, but add new single player modes as well as Xbox Live functionality including a Solo Battle mode and a four player Tag Battle mode. Take in all the sugar-coated screenshots IGN posted after the jump and analyze the Japanese inspired fun over on Japan's Mr. Driller Online page. Dig it!

    Mass Effect 2 set to be a 360 timed exclusive

    Semi-confirming industry analysts' predictions, BioWare senior manager Matt Atwood told CVG that Mass Effect 2 will more than likely be a timed exclusive for the Xbox 360. When talking about the Mass Effect trilogy and how it'll be released, Atwood revealed that he believes "we'll be Xbox 360 exclusive for at least a short period of time." Atwood goes on to say that they've "had a great relationship with Microsoft and done very well", but that they are still working out specifics regarding future Mass Effect releases. Later in the interview, it was also revealed that BioWare plans on releasing Mass Effect 2 onto the PC similar to how Mass Effect will be releasing to the PC platform this May saying that "you'll see a PC version not too far away."

    With the next-gen wars heating up and BioWare getting gobbled up by EA, we're more than happy with an Xbox 360 timed exclusive release as a straight up exclusive 360 release was starting to look unlikely. We just hope BioWare stays on top of their game and doesn't let multiple platform releases mess with their nearly perfect formula.

    XNA community games downloaded 750,000 times

    Today, as we churned through February's NPD numbers, we came across an interesting number that was included as part of Microsoft's NPD press release. The magic number is 750,000 and it's the number of times the seven free XNA games were downloaded the week after GDC. Microsoft's internal estimates peg the seven XNA games (including gems like Dishwasher: Dead Samurai, JellyCar and Little Gamers) were downloaded around 750,000 times over Xbox Live and, by our internal calculations, that sounds like a lot! Hopefully the exposure these downloads received not only got gamers excited for their release, but excited for the big XNA community games rollout later this Fall. Bring on the free XNA goodness already, bring it!

    Burnout Paradise Islands DLC will be free

    Fantastic news for Burnout Paradise fans who were looking forward to the upcoming "Islands" downloadable content. We just learned that the content is going to be offered for free! Criterion's own Alex Ward jumped onto their official forums to confirm that the upcoming Island DLC will be a free download and will add new locations as well as new vehicles to the mix. But don't get used to receiving free Burnout Paradise DLC, as Ward make it clear that other DLC releases in the future will be paid content. No worries now though, because we have free DLC headed our way, new vehicles to crash and new bridges to burn.

    Europe experiences an abusive Condemned 2 demo

    According to a SEGA issued press release, the once rumored to be available Condemned 2: Bloodshot demo is now available on the Xbox Live Marketplace, but (sadly) for only European Live members. The release mentions that the demo will be available today (if not already) and will feature campaign gameplay from midway through the first level. There is no mention of a Bloodshot demo for North American fanboys, but we're thinking this is SEGA's apology gift to those in Europe for the game's continuous delays. But we wouldn't mind you sharing your demo love SEGA ... can we has Bloodshot demo too, please?

    Feb NPD: 360 sales lag, but software sales soar

    It's time once again for our monthly dose of NPD sales numbers and for the second month in a row the Xbox 360 falls behind the PS3 in terms of hardware sales. Though, February's 254.6K Xbox 360 sales were only slightly lower than the PS3's 280.8K, so it wasn't a huge walloping. And, for the second month, Microsoft's excuse for lackluster hardware sales is due to hardware constraints and not being able to keep up with demand. A problem that should be rectified for March. Oh, and that console called the Wii ... 432K units sold. Ouch!

    Hopping over to the software side of life, February was stellar for Xbox 360 games seeing five of the ten top spots. Among the big winners was Call of Duty 4, Devil May Cry 4 and our friends at Harmonix were finally able to break into the top ten with Rock Band selling 161.8K units. Click towards the break to get your fill of February NPD hardware and software sales and let's just hope March brings a turnaround. Otherwise we have a feeling the big guys in Redmond may be forced to do some North American price cutting to stay competitive and strike fear in the eyes of their enemies.

    February NPD Hardware Sales
    DS - 587.6K
    Wii - 432K
    PS2 - 351.8K
    PS3 - 280.8K
    Xbox 360 - 254.6K
    PSP - 243.1K

    February NPD Software Sales
    1. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare - 360 - 296.2K
    2. Devil May Cry 4 - 360 - 295.2K

    3. Wii Play w/remote - Wii - 289.7K
    4. Devil May Cry 4 - PS3 - 233.5K
    5. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock - Wii - 222.9K
    6. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games - DS - 205.6K
    7. Lost Odyssey - 360 - 203.6K
    8. Turok - 360 -197.7K
    9. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock - PS2 - 183.8K
    10. Rock Band - 360 - 161.8K

    New COD4 maps detailed by GameSpot

    The folks at GameSpot got their meat hooks on two of the four downloadable maps coming to Call of Duty 4. First and foremost, players will be happy to know that some of the new maps will not be set in the Middle East or Russia. GameSpot got to look at Broadcast and Creek, the first of which being set in the television station seen during the campaign mission "Charlie Don't Surf." The environment from the campaign is faithfully replicated with some design changes made to suit multiplayer. Creek, on the other hand, is set somewhere entirely new, complete with lush greenery, cliffs, a cave and, yes, a creek. The map is "massive" according to GameSpot with lots of places to go. The final two maps are "Chinatown" and "Killhouse." The first is fairly obvious, while the second map was apparently inspired by the training course from the first mission of the game. The price for the DLC remains a mystery as does its release date (though it was originally billed as a "spring" release). Hit the "read" link for GameSpot's full impressions.

    Thursday, March 13, 2008

    Famitsu reveals new female Soul Calibur IV fighter

    Our Famitsu friends just revealed a brand new character that'll making a debut in the upcoming Star Wars infused Soul Calibur IV and she (yes she) is feisty looking one.

    Her name is Scheherazade (pronunciation anyone?), she sports a saber-like weapon and comes across as a scantily clad swordswoman who loves the color pink and frilly outfits. That said, we're sure she could beat us down any day. No other Scheherazade details could be lifted from Famitsu's foreign pages, but we expect good old Namco to come to our informative-rescue and announce the entire Soul Calibur IV character list before launch. Until then, we'll try our darnedest to envision Yoda and Scheherazade going head to head in a battle to the death. Odd ...

    Street Fighter HD filesize no longer an issue

    Street Fighter fans put away those shiny pennies in an effort to purchase a PlayStation 3. Game producer, Rey Jimenez, put fears of a "gimped" Xbox 360 version of the upcoming Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix to rest with the latest blog post on Capcom's official site. "I can officially say that the filesize will not be an issue," Jimenez said. "With great help from the guys at Microsoft, we will be able to offer the same features on both platforms to the same quality as each other. To use the term I've been reading on the forums, neither console version will be "gimped" due to any kind of limitation."

    All we can say is phew. This news comes at a perfect time for fans of the series who have recently been told about a beta test program that will be rolling out this Spring. The last thing we can hope for is that the "compression ninjas" at Microsoft will help with that Bionic Commando: Rearmed issue as well.

    Capcom officially announces Plunder for XBLA

    Earlier today, Capcom took the curtain off of one of their latest XBLA projects officially announcing Plunder, and from the look of things, it's a puzzle pirate's dream.

    Scheduled for release sometime this Summer, Certain Affinity's Plunder takes inspiration from Settlers of Catan, but with a pirate themed real-time strategy twist where players take control of various locations all while toppling their opponent. Out of the gate, Plunder will come packed with multiplayer versus locally and over Xbox Live as well as 25 multiplayer maps and allow for map creation. If you can't contain your Plunder excitement, we recommend taking a look at the screenshots in the gallery below and reading over Joystiq's Plunder impressions which they obtained from a recent Plunder play session. Now move along you scurvy dogs.

    Bow Wow and Omarion become Artists of the Month

    Put down the rolled up newspaper and break out the doggy biscuits, because Lil Bow Wow and his good pal Omarion are this month's Xbox Live Artist(s) of the Month. Word!

    Both Bow Wow and Omarion got to share this month's AotM honors, because of their collaborative album Face Off which, according to the press blurb, showcases a "quantum leap in creative and artistic musical expression". And here at X3F, we're supporters of any and all quantum leaping. So go ahead and download their first Face Off single "Hey Baby (Jump Off)" from the XBLM and maybe, if you're up to it, grab a copy of the album at retail. If you do make the purchase, not only will you be supporting both Bow Wow and Omarion, but you'll also be supporting quantum leaping as well.

    Win a Mass Effect themed Xbox 360 from BioWare

    BioWare, being the giving developers that they are, have decided to celebrate the release of Mass Effect's Bring Down the Sky DLC with a little Xbox 360 hardware giveaway. Some custom Mass Effect 360 Elite hardware at that. All you have to do to win one of these six super sleek and sexy Mass Effect themed Xbox 360s is to hop on over to BioWare's community site, log in and register for the giveaway. But know that their little Elite giveaway only lasts through April 22nd, so be sure to register by then and be sure to keep those fingers crossed. Mass Effect themed Xbox 360 Elite bounty is but a random drawing away.

    New Two Worlds DLC: Tainted Blood

    After its announcement late last month, the first of two new downloadable content packs for Two Worlds has been released. Entitled "Tainted Blood" the new DLC offers 4 new multiplayer maps and over 35 new quests that can be accomplished with friends. The DLC also includes a new PVP multiplayer mode in which players "battle to control magical orbs within a variety of arenas." All in all, according to the press release, Tainted Blood should add 10 hours of gameplay to Two Worlds. Should you desire Tainted Blood (and who doesn't?), it will run you 600 Microsoft Points. We've received a handful of new screens of the DLC, which you can peep in the gallery below. Remember, there is still another batch of DLC planned for April as well as a full expansion called Temptation set to arrive sometime this year. We're reminding you so that you won't forget to not download

    Dyack talks sales, delays and naysayers

    In an interview with Gamasutra, Silicon Knights lead Dennis Dyack discussed his upcoming game Too Human and the overall direction of the industry. While Dyack has always been passionate about his work, he does admit that the company's success hitches on the response from gamers at retail for Too Human. "It would be really, really bad [if Too Human wasn't a commercial success]," Dyack explained, "in some sense ... Would it kill us? I don't know. We'd probably recover."

    "Miyamoto-san said it right a long time ago: "No one will remember a late game; everyone will remember a bad game," Dyack reminisces while discussing the reasons behind the nine-year wait since Too Human was first shown at E3 1999. "We believe in that strongly. We live and die by our last game. And, you know, you're only as good as your last game." With that in mind we, along with Dyack, wonder why Silicon Knights gets so much flak for their upcoming trilogy when their back catalog has been nothing but critical "darlings." Awards for Legacy of Kain and Eternal Darkness fill the glass cases of Silicon Knights' St. Catherines, Ontario, office. With such a history, Dyack wonders why people continue to doubt the company's latest piece.

    "We have no skeletons in our closet. I wish everyone knew all about the stuff that we've done in the past, but you look at Legacy of Kain, you look at Eternal Darkness, you look at Metal Gear," Dyack proclaims. "Too Human is going to be another one. We wouldn't let it out until then. It's real tough, though. It's real tough. It's not an easy process."

    For more on Too Human and Dyack's thoughts on the direction of the industry, read the entire interview.

    Europe to get GRAW2 Legacy Edition in April

    Yesterday, Ubisoft announced that a newly new and jam packed edition of Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 would be hitting European territories this April called the GRAW2 Legacy Edition.

    This new Legacy Edition will feature all of the previously released GRAW2 downloadable content adding an additional 32 multiplayer maps, new game modes and new weapons to the classic (see: older) GRAW2 experience. Ubi didn't mention anything about pricing for the Legacy Edition, so one should expect it to fall in line with pricing for new releases. That said, is there really a point to releasing this Legacy Edition seeing that most of the die hard military shooter fanboys already moved on from GRAW2 to the oh so popular CoD4? Just saying .

    Microsoft denies 360 Blu-ray attachment

    They may have to support it for some of their products, but Microsoft is being vocal about their non-support of Blu-ray technology when it comes to the Xbox 360.

    Microsoft's own Aaron Greenberg flat out told Reuters that Sony's Blu-ray technology would not be integrated into the 360 saying that "Xbox is not currently in talks with Sony or the Blu-ray Association to integrate Blu-ray into the Xbox experience". So, can we now officially put to rest any rumors or talk of Microsoft releasing an Xbox 360 Blu-ray attachment? Please?

    Bungie to add MLG Playlist to Halo 3

    After years of griping, whining and hand-wringing, the competitive sub section of the Halo 3 community is getting what it wants. When the April Halo 3 Playlist Update hit's it will include a change from the old-standby, Team Hardcore, to an actual MLG Playlist. There is so far no word on the exact changes, or what weight game-types will have in the hoppers, or even which MLG game-types will be in. While not much is really known, this is big news for both the organization and the game, and we can't help but wonder if this is part of the effort to increase the player base again. Still, promises more info soon and we'll bet that this week's Bungie Weekly What's Update will include some info as well. Bring it on, we say.

    Wednesday, March 12, 2008

    UEFA Soccer 08 stadiums revealed

    Another UEFA tournament equals another UEFA game of course! While that may seem like the extent of our math skills we can say for sure that Electronic Arts have released 8 screens of the stadiums being used in UEFA Soccer 2008. So far it looks as if EA has successfully recreated the stadiums from the Austria and Switzerland hosted event. All we can say is, GOOOOOOOOOOOAL! Sorry, we had to.

    Microsoft confirms official support of Blu-ray

    It's been bandied about before, but now we have real word from Microsoft that they are indeed going to be supporting the defacto winner of the format war. With Sony saying that they were "in talks" with Microsoft, and a clam-like strategy being adopted by Microsoft, no one was quite sure just how spited they were towards Blu-ray. This is jus the confirmation of things though, with Microsoft admitting that it is trying to figure out the best way to connect with Blu-ray, and that it is working on different ways to integrate the Blu-ray devices and technology into Microsoft products across the board, including Windows.

    Freeverse reveals Airburst screens

    The folks at Freeverse, developers behind the XBLA port of Marathon: Durandal, shot over two screens of their upcoming revamp of the classic title Airburst.

    Announced as an XBLA exclusive in October, Freeverse hopes to bring back the excitement of the 2001 Mac OS release. Developed by partner studio, Strange Flavour (who created the original), gamers can expect HD inverted pong-action, injected with insane color.

    Commando 3 gets a name change, again

    According to an updated filing for an ESRB rating the upcoming XBLA title, Commandos 3 (aka MERCS) has been renamed to Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3. The name change stems from a few different areas, so here's the run down.

    The game is a sequel to MERCS but with the upcoming release of Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, Capcom decided they can't call their XBLA game MERCS 2. Commando 3 was the original title when it was rumored for the service, but with the release of Bionic Commando Rearmed they decided against that too. So, since the original name of the series is Wolf of the Battlefield in Japan, Capcom opted to go with Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 for the XBLA release.

    Phew ... That explanation leaves us out of breath. Let's just hope Capcom releases Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 before Activision drops new details on the upcoming Wolfenstein next-gen title.

    Harmonix sues Activision over royalties, withdraws

    It looks like the rhythm game battle between Activision and Harmonix extends beyond the sales gap between Guitar Hero III and Rock Band, as Harmonix sued Activision on Monday. The suit was withdrawn on Tuesday as the threat of a legal battle was apparently enough to make Activision talk with the company. According to the lawsuit, Harmonix asserts that it is owed $14.5 million in unpaid royalties for the use of its technology in Guitar Hero III and further asserts that the company has not received any money for song downloads, in-game ads, and related products. Variety reports that the lawsuit was "clearly intended" to lay down a precedent for future iterations of the Guitar Hero series (of which there are many, many planned). Activision, for its part, claims that it has paid Harmonix "sufficient" royalties.