Friday, August 7, 2009

Assassin's Creed 2 Limited Edition Now Exists In North America

I've known about this since Wednesday morning but have saved the news as a nice little way to start the weekend.

Remember when you heard about the Assassin's Creed 2 "Black Edition"? Remember how jealous you were that over seas was getting this wicked cool box set and we were getting nothing?

Fret no more, dear readers! Now you too can buy a sweet Ezio toy and put it up on the shelf for your cat to knock over and destroy! Check it out:

I present to you the GameStop Exclusive Master Assassin's Edition of Assassin's Creed 2. It retails at $79.99 and it releases 11/17/2009, giving you plenty of time to save up for this bad boy.

How does it compare with the Black Edition? Pretty well, actually. Here's the basic run down of the two:

Packaging: The Black Edition is... well, it's black. Everything about it is black. That's it's motif. Even if Ezio normally wears white, everything about the Black Edition box is black, whereas the North American Master Assassin's Edition is white. The only major difference (besides color schematics) is that the Black Edition is box is themed to also act as a display case, whereas (as far as I can see), the Master Assassin's box is not. It's just a special metal case. However, it doesn't really matter - we're all going to keep the box.

Exclusive Toy Collectible Figure: Both are the same, except one being black and one being white. Also, this thing is pretty big. Most figures that come with games are tiny, but this one is the same size as the game box (8.5"!). Pretty neat, huh? Also, I find it hilarious that Black Ezio is called "Master Assassin" Ezio in the press release of the Black Edition. So what's White Ezio?!

Bonus DVD and Soundtrack: Again, the only real difference here is that one is black and one is white. It's just a big fun color motif.

Bonus Reading Material: Well, the North American version has what is clearly labeled an Artbook to show you the concept drawings of AC2, but the Black Edition is marked as a "Conspiracy Book." Ultimately? This is probably just another case of one being black and one being white, but you never know. I mean, it is a conspiracy, right?

(Note: this is all just humorous commentary. The Conspiracy Book is in fact the art book. Don't worry.)

Bonus Maps: And HERE is the difference! North America will receive 2 bonus maps (Palazzo Medici and Santa Maria Dei Frari) where as all PAL regions will get one more bonus level: the Aresenal Shipyard Warehouse. Damn you, Ubisoft and Britains. Damn you...

Either way though. This is the only other game coming out this year that I knew I wanted to pre-order, and by the time you're reading this, I'll already have done so. I mean, it comes out in November, so all my money worries? Frak it. I'm sure I can save away the money by then.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Excited to Browse Netflix Instant Play from your Xbox come August 11? Think again...

I know that I for one was ELATED when I found out about the new dashboard update coming August 11th. My typical set up for viewing instant play on my Xbox is to have my laptop close by so I can add new movies to my queue so they will be available to watch on my TV. The prospect of being able to browse through instant play directly on the Xbox without the laptop sounded fantastic...until I read this:
It restricts users to perusing the Top 50 films in any of a handful of categories, meaning no searching by title and no browsing alphabetically.

Buh...wha? Well that is disappointing. While that is a lot better then the current ability to only browse what is in my queue, it still leaves a dirty taste in my mouth. Apparently Microsoft knows our wants and needs better then ourselves...
According to Microsoft's Ben Smith, Director of Program Management for Xbox Live, that's how you want it. He says: "I think when people come to Xbox they're not really looking so much for functional, they really want to have fun, they want to be wowed."

We're not looking for functionality? And we want to be wowed? Frankly, I would be much more wowed if I had the ability to browse for obscure documentaries. All in all, this is a disappointment, but still an improvement over only being able to browse your queue.

L4D DLC Announced; or, Hey Valve! 'Sup wit you these days?

The other possible title for this post was "God DAMMIT, PC Users!"

By now you've certainly heard the good news. Valve has announced some brand new DLC for Left 4 Dead! Remember when we all thought Left 4 Dead would be neglected now that they're working heavily on Left 4 Dead 2 with plans to release it within a years time of the original? We were clearly wrong! Hahaha, silly us! Check out the press release:

Entitled "Crash Course," the latest DLC delivers new single-player, multiplayer and co-operative gameplay to both platforms. Targeted for release in September, "Crash Course" bridges the gap between the end of the "No Mercy" campaign and the beginning of "Death Toll" in the original game, expanding the game universe with new locations, new dialogue from the original cast, and an explosive finale

While containing both Survival maps and a Co-operative Campaign, the primary goal of "Crash" is to deliver a complete Versus mode experience in just 30 minutes, resulting in a streamlined version of the game's existing Versus campaigns. A recharge timer for infected teammates has also been added, and item spawn behavior has changed for more balanced gameplay.


That sounds good to me. You can be sure that I'll be downloading this for free, just like the Survival Mode and 2 new Versus modes they gave us a while ago.

Wait. Hold on. I didn't finish reading the press release:

Left 4 Dead: Crash Course is targeted for release in September and will be available free of charge on the PC and for 560 Gamer points on Xbox Live.


Alright, let's cut to the chase: I'm the resident cynic and I realize this. I'm the one that points out the flaws over everything else. But let's be real here for a minute. The reason people love Valve is because they are constantly giving back to the fans that support all their crazy schemes. Since the release of the Orange Box, they've improved Team Fortress 2 ten-fold with new weapons, additions to characters, map updates, new achievements, and all of it has been free. All of it has only been on the PC as well. The 360 gamer sees nothing of this, and it looks like we never will (despite my reporting on it a while ago). Then, Valve decides to rush out Left 4 Dead 2 because it's "too big for DLC." That may be so, but it's still a slap in the face to those of us who can't pay $59.99 every time you decide to put out a new game a year (I'm looking at you, every sports game ever). And now, after giving us the Survival pack (which, all things considered, was a BIG update) for free, us folk with a 360 have to now pay for this new campaign, and the PC kids don't? How is this fair?

The answer is probably pretty simple: a while ago, Valve stated that the reason the XBOX 360 users weren't getting any TF2 updates is because Microsoft wouldn't allow them to give out such a large amount of additional content for free. Valve said, "Ok, fine, then we'll wait until we have something big to unload on the console so, if they have to pay, at least they're getting bang for their buck!" Thanks guys. It's appreciated, really. If I have to be aggressive towards someone, I at least like to know who I'm being aggressive to: Microsoft! Those cheeky devils. I would call Microsoft out on this if this weren't a system they had been doing consistently for years. Microsoft almost ALWAYS charges for it's new DLC. It doesn't matter if it's TF2, Halo Wars, Gears of War 2, you name it. You want it, you buy it. I see this as perfectly fair. And since Valve is an independent company now, they can do whatever they like when it comes to the internet. If they want to give away a Sandvich for free, they'll give that Sandvich away for less than free! So that's the logistics of it: Microsoft has rules and Valve has to comply (and I knew that without having to ask Valve for an explanation).

But is it fair? No. Not in the slightest. Look, I will still be cross at Valve for Left 4 Dead 2 because I don't see it as worth $59.99 and nothing I've read has changed my opinion on that (and I've stated my opinion as such on multiple occassions). I'll pay the $7 for a new level and other tweaked updates because I see it as worth that price, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. It is entirely unfair that one medium will get free updates and the rest of us either don't get the updates or pay for the few we do get. We don't get anything, really. As far as a community goes, the 360 is screwed. Do we get to play L4D in the Winchester? No. How about the Mall from Dawn of the Dead? If you want that, go buy Dead Rising and have someone sit next to you in order to fake a multiplayer experience. Let's face it - we're getting the raw end of the stick, and it sucks. As good as L4D is, and as fun as it is to run around and shoot zombies, the fact is we have 5 maps (soon to be 6) and all we can do is play them over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and you see where I'm going with this, right? While you can't really fault Valve here (who swear they love us but can't do anything about it) or Microsoft (because it's not like this is a weird change for them and we all knew what we were getting into when we bought a 360), we still get less than half the experience that a PC user gets.

And that, my friends, is what Penn and Teller would decree as bullshit.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

BGE: New Feature and New Feature Idea Requests

My newest idea for a feature is a Retro Playback Review type of feature. I am not sure that I am going to stick with the name but it is a feature that I have been wanting to start up for a while now. I am currently playing through the Classic Edition of The Secret of Monkey Island as my first review and I have my eyes set on Beyond Good and Evil (though considerably not retro) as my second.

I will take any recommendations on games to play and review, for this feature, just so long as they are not from this console generation.

I am also taking recommendations on original features like this one (retro reviews) to amp up reader interest so post those in the comments as well.


Monday, August 3, 2009

WAIM (What Am I Playing): August 3, 2009 - More Battlefield Please! Edition

Though I played nothing over the weekend - which coincidentely makes me feel as though I have played nothing all week - I did play a lot more Battlefield (of both variations) this week.

I learned how to fly the planes in 1943 so I have been enjoying that a lot, often finding that I am enjoying flying and doing tricks more than actually playing the game.

Other than flying in 1943 I have been exclusively playing Bad Company. I find that even after I am passed my breaking point of playing (that point where something inside of you breaks and you find yourself not even trying) I still continue on to see what other ridiculous feats I might be able to accomplish.

I managed to place first in match (BC) overall (netting myself that achievement) so the amount of achievements that I have left for multiplayer are no longer numerous in nature.

Other than that I have been fiddling with new features from the Xbox Preview Program and as a result I have considered changing my "in-real-life" style to SteamPunk. Lastly I think I will also commission a life-size cotton swab so that I may carry it around at all times.

Monday MUpdate: The New New XBOX Experience!

Oh, the perks of being in the industry! As writers, we get exclusive access to all sorts of cool things, and the latest is early access to the new NXE dashboard and set up. Yup, only us industry peoples totes got access. There's no way anyone else could do it. Nope. No way at all.

So what can one do in this current update? Is all that stuff from E3 we were told about now readily available? No, no it isn't (and I can't say I'm complaining about that either). What we get is the long awaited Netflix and Avatar goodies we were initially promised at the beginning of the NXE. That and Games On Demand, a set up I haven't even bothered to look at yet. No offense to that system, but it just doesn't interest me at the moment. With the little time I have to play games, I'd rather play what I already paid for! Regardless, there's a whole list of things that come with the update, including little details that are supposed to make your life easier. A new way to look at Achievements, for example. I looked at it, I wasn't all that impressed, but I can see the attraction. We also get shorter clicks to different screens, such as your Active Download Queue. It's neat, but did we really need it? Are we so lazy that the two extra clicks it took before the update really brought us down?

"So Matt," you say. "If you're so negative all the time, is there nothing you enjoy about this new update?" No, silly Billy. There's plenty I like. Why, just look to your left and you'll see exactly what I like. Here's a few quick notes and thoughts on the most visually apparent new stuff:

Avatar Marketplace
See that handsome man? That's me in my current incarnation. When it was first announced that you could now pay for clothes and props, I thought, "That's stupid. Who would ever do that?" The answer is me. I totally did that. XBOX's new marketplace 100% spoke to my interests with it's Steampunk fashion setting, and I'm thrilled to say I purchased all new attire to show off (although I kept my XBOX Chucks as a small tribute to my favorite physician). I gotta say, as much as it annoys me that this stuff costs money, it is very neat. I love the props category, and was highly considering getting some of them (I used up all my money on goggles... just like in real life!) if only for the hilarity factor (such as the one item that had Nate VERY curious: a giant ear swab). I also really like that now, in the free stuff that normally came with the Avatars, they've condensed the categories to make it a bit more neat. It's not a huge change, but it definitely looks better.

My only real question that comes up with the Avatar section is the brand new Props and Awards categories. When I looked in these, they were both blank, and they told me that I needed to win these things in games... but what games? Are all games open to giving me props? Even ones before the NXE? And how exactly does one earn a prop? Or an award? I found the lack of details in this category to be a bit annoying, to be honest. Sure, I can just buy a prop, but how do I win one? If I'm playing Marvel vs Capcom 2, can I win a prop or an award, or does it have to be a full retail game? If I play Fallout 3 and I do a particularly gruesome headshot, does that get me an award? There are no standards as defined by the XBOX crew, so I'm left in a futile situation where I don't know what to do in order to attain more glory on my XBOX. I really like to know these things, so if they release some sort of comprehensive list, or at least a hint or two at what games to play, I'd appreciate that.

Netflix's insta-watch capabilities have certainly improved. Most of the videos now have a nice little "HD" logo next to them, and even if you don't have an HD TV it'll still stream as such. The load times have also improved, and the whole streaming thing is a lot faster. That's wonderful. Also, you can set your Netflix so that when you watch a video, it'll tell everyone what video you are watching! How novel! "Oh look, they're watching Very Young Girls... huh... uhm, well, anyway." And of course, there is the full access to the Netflix instant queue, which is 100% glorious in it's entirety. It's also severely confusing! At least, to a movie buff like me. Now I have all these movies in the palm of my hand and I don't know what to do. Do I add Lakeview Terrace just because I can?! It's a conundrum, but one I openly welcome. It's important to note that you will have to do a lot of flipping through when searching the instant queue. Not only do they give you the good stuff, but you'll also have to scroll through every B-Movie in existance to find a lot of what you want. This isn't XBOX's fault though, that's Netflix's fault for offering so many bad movies on demand. Have you ever seen Mulva: Zombie Ass Kicker? I have. It's not pretty. But hey - now you have the opportunity to! Plus, we finally have the ability to watch videos in a party. So you don't have to watch Mulva alone!

So the new stuff is certainly nice. Like I said, a lot of it was done for convenience's sake. I feel like they hyped it up a lot more then it was really worth, but I'm also very cynical. I do enjoy the new additions to my dashboard and XBOX, though. I'm not having this appear with unopen arms. I'm ready for change and happy to be doing it early. I love my little Steampunk guy (and those who knew my previous gaming icon will probably get a mild chuckle out of my new one). So that was fun!

Oh. And Marvel vs Capcom 2? If you didn't get it, you're totally lame. I played that online with a group of friends and it was a wild experience. I had some friends over later to also play it, and it was so much fun. Here's a tip: use Servbot for all your characters. It makes for super hilarity fun time happiness. I also played Left 4 Dead until 4 in the morning again, which I haven't done since I worked at Target, so that was a lot of fun. I was wrecked the next day at work, but it was totally worth it in retrospect because I'm young and in love!