Posts Tagged ‘Xbox’

Once again it looks like Microsoft has announced another policy reversal. This time it’s in regards to the Kinect sensor with the Xbox One. Stemming from an Ask Microsoft Anything article from IGN, Xbox Corporate Vice President Marc Whitten has stated:

“Xbox One owners will be able to use all of the console’s core functions regardless of whether the new Kinect sensor is connected. Naturally, many of the tentpole features of the new Kinect, such as player identification, voice commands, etc., will be disabled as a result, but players will still be able to play games and access entertainment content.”

So what does this all mean? Basically, it means that the Kinect sensor is no longer required in order for the Xbox One to function. No more worrying about Microsoft “spying” on you. No more Kinect…period! While this latest reversal has Xbox fans once again rejoicing, I begin to wonder whether this change is a so called “victory” for gamers? Honestly, I don’t think so. The conclusion that I draw from all this is that Microsoft has raped the identity of the Xbox One leaving gamers confused about Microsoft’s next-gen vision.

Yes, Xbox One actually had a vision, however gamers including myself saw it as a console filled with restrictive policies that seemed to benefit the publishers more than the consumer. Personally, I was pissed off about the requirement of Kinect, DRM, always online, and no backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 games. All this gravitated me towards the PlayStation 4, and by E3 my decision was made after the Sony press conference as Jack Tretton stated that the PS4 was everything opposite of what the Xbox One was as well as $100 cheaper. I was sold. The PS4 was for me.

What has happened since E3 has had Microsoft backpedaling, and the results that followed had me wondering just what the heck was going on in Redmond. For a while I believed that Microsoft had it’s head on it’s shoulders, and was taking the correct steps in bringing a community of gamers together. Unfortunately, things have changed dramatically, because I now believe that Microsoft is absolutely clueless about what they’re doing. The last couple of months have been filled with reversals that include the Draconian DRM, self publishing with indie developers, always online, and now the Kinect. To put things in a nutshell, Microsoft has abandoned just about everything the Xbox One was supposed to be in terms of the future of gaming and entertainment just so they can compete with the PlayStation 4. Basically, the Xbox One is nothing more than a beefed up Xbox 360. Now why would you want something that you pretty much already have?

And what about the Kinect?

Now that the Kinect is no longer mandatory, developers might decide to no longer include the use of the peripheral when making their games. Why enhance the gameplay with a device that gamers were against using in the first place? This once again makes the Kinect nothing more than another useless gimmick. As of this moment, Microsoft has no plans to remove the Kinect sensor from the Xbox One which means first adopters will still have to pay the $100 extra for something that they might never use. For some this is a waste of money. Microsoft, on the other hand, can only hope that gamers will actually use it.

From excitement of the announcement to damage control that followed, it’s such a shame to see how far Microsoft has fallen in just the past few months. They’ve completely lost their way, and I just don’t understand why some people are such Microsoft apologists after all these reversals. The Xbox One now has a major identity crisis, and I no longer know what this console is or what exactly makes it so special. Maybe what Microsoft should’ve done was stick to their guns, and slowly ease people in to what could be the future of gaming and entertainment. Unfortunately, all Microsoft has done is continue to dig themselves further down the hole while still not finding a way to get themselves out of it.

* Source of linked IGN article written by Scott Lowe

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TV, TV, TV, Sports, Sports, Sports, Call of Duty.

What a letdown. May 21, 2013 was supposed to be the day when Microsoft would reveal a new generation of Xbox. Instead what I saw was a one hour tech demo starring my television. “Introducing Xbox One.” Xbox One! What a shitty name, but I did understand the eventual message of an all in one console. I thought I was going to see the next generation of gaming. Instead all I got was another high def cable box along with a new Kinect for me to issue commands to. This was what I was so excited about? What a bunch of horse shit! Where were the games?

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For an event that was being watched by gamers, Microsoft really showed that they were catering to a different crowd. E3 was less than a month away, and I figured that they would showcase the games there. That settled me down for a bit, but then the shit storm came. Draconian DRM policies, no used games, a once every 24 hour check in, no backwards compatibility, the always on Kinect listening and watching you. All of a sudden my rage kicked in. What was Microsoft thinking? For the next three weeks myself, along with the rest of the gaming community, were pissed off at Microsoft and began looking towards Sony for salvation.

When E3 arrived I still wanted to see what Microsoft brought to the table in terms of games. I had my olive branch in hand ready to forgive Microsoft for their stupidity. Hopefully they’ll answer all my burning questions after a nightmare PR statement revealed a week before E3. What they gave me was a 21 gun salute of game after game after game. I was overwhelmed! Titanfall, Dead Rising 3, Halo, Ryse, Crimson Dragon, and more. Microsoft’s show was impressive, but they still didn’t answer the questions that the gaming community wanted answered. Eventually Don Mattrick did answer the question about an always online console. “If you don’t have internet we have a console for you. It’s called the Xbox 360.” Not a good choice of words Don. Oh, and then there was the $499 price tag. This made me anticipate Sony’s press conference just a little bit more.

Once Sony took the stage I knew that I was in for a treat. Sure they talked a bit about entertainment, but this was really a night for the games. Oh, and they also showed the console which looked really sleek. Then again anything would’ve looked better than that Betamax Xbox One. The games were impressive, but what really got me was when Jack Tretton answered every gamer’s questions. No DRM, used games are welcome, I can share my games with anyone, and no 24 hour check in. The crowd erupted in applause, and I had a smile from ear to ear. Then came the bombshell of a $399 price tag. That made me even happier than ever. It also made my decision much easier, because that next morning I pre ordered a PlayStation 4.

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Considering the fact that I’ve been with the Xbox brand for the last decade, the tough decision to return to Sony had me branded as a traitor by some fanboys out there questioning my “loyalty.” Let me state for the record that I have no loyalty to anyone. Before I was playing games on Xbox I had the original PlayStation and the PS2. What I think about is what’s better for me, and Sony impressed me more with the PS4. Sony showed in both their February 20 reveal along with their E3 press conference that they realized they fucked up with the PS3. They also knew that what was important to them was the gamer, so they made a console tailored for gamers. In a way the PS4 is basically the PS2 all over again except for more power and a few new options. It’s simple, it’s cheaper, and I like it.

Now Microsoft may have reversed their policies last week, but this desperate 180 measure is not going to sway me back. The damage was already done. The bridge has been burnt. You just can’t all of a sudden change your policies and expect the masses to run back like the bandwagon Miami Heat fans did during Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Microsoft said that they were listening to their customers. The reality was that they realized they were getting gang raped by Sony in the pre-sale battle. So they abandoned their vision of the Xbox One just to cater to the masses and be just like the PS4 except more expensive and still having that spybot Kinect. Honestly, I think that anyone who all of a sudden crawls back to Microsoft is an idiot. Keep in mind that “Microsoft has the right to change their policies at any time without notice” meaning they could revert to all their original policies again in a few years. Well I don’t need to worry about all that crap, because I’m sticking with Sony.

Now that my decision is made, and my PlayStation 4 preordered for a day one pickup this November, I can finally focus on my next venture. The games. Now what titles should I buy first?

Ok, so I’ve seen the the reveals. Each company has opened their argument  about why I should buy their console this fall. Considering the fact that I’ve been loyal to Microsoft for the last decade this should be an easy choice right? Well…not exactly. There’s also that part where before I was playing games on Xbox and the 360 I was playing games on PlayStation and PlayStation 2. Now I’m in a dilemma. Current loyalty vs what I enjoyed in the past. Halo vs Killzone. Forza Motorsport vs Gran Turismo. Owning both consoles will become a monster headache for me. I must choose one, but which one. I’m so confused.

Frankly I feel that a lot of you are in the same boat as me. Mulling over specs, controllers, games, apps, and other options while constantly trying to avoid all the ridiculously stupid fanboys and trolls that hang around the message boards of every website. You all know the trolls. The ones who always have an opinion, but mostly based in fanboyism as well as insulting everyone’s mother at the same time. PS4 fanboys call Xbox the “Darkside” and tell people to come back to the light. Xbox One fanboys…well you don’t hear that much other than loyalty. And what about Wii U? Wait! Does anyone actually own one? Honestly, I think that the Wii U has been rejected by Dikembe Mutombo while saying “Not in my house!” This is a two console battle, and only one juggernaut will be standing horizontally at the end. Let the console war commence!

So let’s begin. Here are my opinions on each company’s next-gen reveal.

Ok, so Microsoft revealed the console. Nice. Sadly, the first part of this reveal showed me that if I want to watch The Price is Right then the Xbox One is definitely the way to go. Oh and it also plays live sports including the NFL! Seriously, I’d rather go to a bar and have a few beers with my friends while watching sports instead of skyping them and letting them know that I’m beating them on a fantasy league. A Halo television show! If it’s anything like Forward Unto Dawn then count me in. Then after a half an hour of bullshit Microsoft finally addressed the target demographic (which includes me) that were actually watching the reveal, however most gamers were probably either bored or tuned out completely by the time they showed a game. Too bad they were all trailers. EA Sports…don’t care. Forza Motorsport 5…awesome! What is Quantum Break? Finally, there was Call of Duty where I’ll get to form a personal relationship with a virtual pet that’s probably going to get shot to shit. No thanks. I have a real dog.

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Name is consistent, but no console. Well at least they showed the controller which looks pretty cool. They talked about the PS4 specs, but still no console. Their showing games! Killzone: Shadow Fall looks sick! Infamous: Second Son sure looks interesting. Driveclub! Now this title is right up my alley and should be a lot of fun. Watch Dogs has been on my radar since it’s reveal last year at E3 and it was a must buy back then. Still is now. Knack is a pass for me since it’s not my type of game. Did Sony find a way to make the PlayStation Vita relevant? Blue balls and old man faces! Sadly, the motion control stuff was boring. More trailers. Bungie talked about Destiny. Blizzard announced Diablo 3. Why? After two hours of gaming bliss I was still waiting to see the console, but the PS4 was a no show. I guess I’ll have to wait until E3. At least the games were cool.

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So, with E3 now a week away the anticipation is killing me inside. Both companies showed their cards yet left me wanting more. Unfortunately Microsoft is still in damage control mode dealing with always online, used game fees, and the so called Kinect spy which I think really creeps me out. Sony, on the other hand, hasn’t said a word. Smart on them. After the reveals I was leaning towards Sony due to the fact that they seemed to have learned from their mistakes of the PS3 as well as catering their console towards me. Since then I’ve let my anger towards Microsoft subside and moved back to the middle of undecided. Both Microsoft and Sony will have their big E3 press conferences on June 10 and I’ll be watching both very carefully. I expect to see more games, features, a price point, and a release date. Then on June 11 my “decision” will be made. No big ESPN special. Just a decision.

So will it be the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, or retire from gaming? I don’t know, but at least one thing is clear. With no backwards compatibility I’ll still have my Xbox 360. It does exactly what I want it to do. Play games and watch Netflix. That’s all I need. Why can’t these companies understand that?

Until next time. Xbox, Go Home.

So I’m sitting around playing Dead Space 2 last night and something hit me. No it wasn’t a thought, but a severe numbness in my right hand. For the past couple of years I’ve played it off as nothing, but recently it returned once again. It’s become quite a hindrance as of late happening a couple of times a week. Usually I would just press the pause button and shake it off and then continue playing a few minutes later, but I begin to think about if there is something wrong with me. Maybe it was time that I found out.

I know that I’m completely healthy, and that I have no lagging injuries. So I decided to go online and look it up. My first thought was Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I hear about it quite a bit lately, but I figured that this can’t be what I’m experiencing. As I started reading about it on Wikipedia I realized that it does mention “numbness of the thumb, index, long and radial half of the ring finger.” This is exactly what I was going through. Could I be in the early stages of CTS? Could it possibly be arthritis? I hope not. To me arthritis is something that old people go through. I’m not that old. I’m 38 for Pete’s sake! I’m not even close to experiencing my mid life crisis yet.

While this numbness in my hands has been an issue there is something else that concerns me. My interest. Lately, I’ve seen a sharp decline in my interest when playing a game. That’s not normal for me. Some nights when I hop online I just stare at the screen. Part of this has to do with either I have no idea what I want to play, or all of a sudden I’m just not interested. With that in mind I wondered whether there was a Cialis or Viagra type of pill for gamers who have a lack of gaming interest, or is the solution simply a six pack of Mountain Dew and a large bag of Doritos. Sadly, the junk food and beverage solution will only lead to obesity, and that’s clearly not in the cards for me.

So here I sit writing this article, and begin to contemplate whether it’s time to put the controller down for good. I’ve been gaming since I was a little kid growing up during the ’80s. The days of the going to the local video arcade, or just playing at home on the Atari 2600 where my imagination really took over especially when objects on screen looked like various geometric shapes. Those were the days when I was playing games that included Pac-Man, Galaga, Dig-Dug, Robotron 2084, Gauntlet, Space Invaders, Defender, and countless others. I was in love with the technology even though these edgy visuals of yesteryear are very low tech compared to today’s high definition standards.

Thirty years of gaming sure is a long time. Sometimes it still feels like only yesterday when my parents brought home that Atari 2600. Plenty of consoles have come and gone after that humble beginning. The NES, Master System, Genesis, Saturn, Playstation, Dreamcast, Playstation 2, Xbox, and currently the Xbox 360. Consoles that featured a plethora of games that still trigger plenty of happy memories. Getting the high score, warp zones, epic boss battles, saving the princess, saving the world, racing to the finish line, blast processing, cheat codes, flawless victories, fatalities, tales of souls and swords, warriors needing food badly, beating up prostitutes with baseball bats after they filled my needs and raised my health, that laughing dog, a plumber, a hedgehog, a Solid Snake, a Master Chief, achievement unlocked. All these moments and more were fun and exciting, but all good moments at some point and time must come to an end. Is that end coming soon?

With a new Xbox console set to arrive later this year I started to think if I still have one more console generation left in me. Back in 2005, I said that the Xbox 360 would probably be my last console. Eight years later I’ve revisited that statement I made. As I begin to approach the unavoidable age of 40 in 2014 I think to myself whether I still want to be playing new video games. Do I still have it left in me to take on new adventures? What about starting to play a new franchise or two? Can I still compete online? What about the numbness in my hands? Maybe I make that final decision and make 2013 the end of the road. Maybe I just play the games I have until my Xbox 360 says no more and shuts down forever. One thing is for certain. I don’t see myself playing games at 50. I just won’t be able to keep up with those young whipper snappers in Call of Duty: Whatever.

For now I’m going to enjoy what this year in gaming offers while hoping that the numbness in my hands don’t ruin it. By E3 this June, I’ll know if my gaming road continues for one last run, or ends in retirement.

Hardcore gaming fans, Microsoft has NOT forgotten about you. After watching the 2012 E3 keynote press conference on Xbox Live it looks like they listened to their customer base and delivered the goods. Games, games, and more games. Of course there was also plenty of Kinect, apps, and the introduction of Smart Glass which looks like a great innovation. More on that in a bit.

So what did I enjoy out of the press conference? Well here is my positives and unfortunate negatives of the big show today.

Halo 4: Kicking off the show was Microsoft’s premiere franchise. Good move, because I didn’t want to see Call of Duty…again. From live action to the gameplay itself Halo 4 looks like it will deliver on it’s promises especially considering the fact that this game is developed by 343 Industries and not Bungie. Master Chief is back! And so is the Battle Rifle. from the campaign footage I saw I can tell you that this game looks awesome. A new enemy joins the fight which had one moment where the chief threw a plasma grenade only to have it thrown back at him. 343 did announce before the show about multiplayer with both competitive and co-op gameplay with Spartan Ops. As of right now this game is living up to it’s tremendous hype.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist: Holy shit Ubisoft I didn’t see this one coming! Sam Fisher is back in a whole new adventure taking place on the Iran/Iraq border where his mission is to prevent the next blacklist attack. In other words it’s more kick ass stealth, interrogation, and execution tactics that I love. Busting through doors and taking out enemies you tracked beforehand in slow motion looked amazing. Kinect voice recognition also played a factor in this game as Sam can get the enemies attention as well as call in an air strike. This is something I’m going to like. Too bad I have to wait until Spring 2013.

Tomb Raider: While I’ve never been really into the Tomb Raider series, the latest gameplay demo for the rebooted origin story for Lara Croft really blew my mind. A mature style Tomb Raider with amazing visuals and combat along with a more realistic feeling. I really liked the outstanding visuals (especially the water effects), the combat, and the destructible environment as it objects would splinter and break from gun attacks. I really enjoyed the cinematic action from the waterfall and parachuting scene where Lara literally fought for her life while going through tremendous pain and suffering. A great demo from Crystal Dynamics and more than likely a buy for me.

Gears of War: Judgement: OK, so this was only a trailer, but the prequel that takes place just after Emergence Day and stars Baird and Cole Train is looking pretty good so far. Too bad I have to wait probably another year to play it. Hopefully this game debuts on the new Xbox with the new Unreal 4 Engine.

Resident Evil 6: Could it be? Another game that feels like a Hollywood blockbuster movie. Leon tore through zombies better than any USS soldier in Operation Raccoon City. No bullet sponge enemies and clunky movements made for some great action. Objects crash and explode along with the zombies that stand in your way from completing each objective. The demo was spoiler free leaving plenty to the imagination.

Xbox Smart Glass: The mere thought of having my Xbox connected with my iPad and iPhone has me excited. From television, to movies, and even my games I can coordinate everything into one smart source. I can be playing a game of Halo 4 and my iPad displays key information of locations and about what I’m doing. My iPhone can be used as a remote control to integrate to the new web browser. Even my Kinect integrates much simpler with Windows 8 for easy web browsing and voice recognition. Full integration begins this Fall.

Other things that interested me included the expansion of ESPN with all channels along with NBA Gametime and League Pass so that I can watch the Miami Heat anywhere when I’m working on the road. South Park: The Stick of Truth has me very interested considering the fact that I’m a big fan of the show. I also liked The Wreckateer which could make for a fun Angry Birds clone with Kinect this summer. Finally, I’m going to keep my eyes on Ascend: New Gods from Signal Studios, LocoCycle from Twisted Pixel, and Forza Horizon which sort of reminds me of a mix of Need for Speed and Test Drive Unlimited.

So here is my list of negatives.

Madden NFL 13: NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana was a great highlight, but the laggy voice recognition controls for calling plays at the line made things look terrible. EA Sports and Tiburon have a lot of work to do to make this feature work seamlessly. August 28 is not that far away so get busy.

Nike + Kinect Training: I’m not going to fault Nike for announcing this innovative product featuring your own personal trainer, development program, and challenging friends on Xbox Live, but I just don’t see a lot of people buying this Kinect based program. Just look back to last year with UFC Personal Trainer. Not everyone has a Kinect and more people would rather just play games or watch movies and sports. Besides most of us all have gym memberships already.

Xbox Music: With so many apps on Xbox Live including last.fm and Pandora already available Xbox Music and it’s 30 million songs to choose from will have a hard time fitting itself in. Also will this be a free service or pay per song like iTunes.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2: Since this series has fallen out of favor with me due to it’s crappy multiplayer filled with cheaters, glitches, and boosters, it would take a lot to bring me back. Activision and Treyarch are taking a big leap here with a future war, but there wasn’t enough here today to sway me back. Zombies will return, but I need more of a reason besides that to make me commit the money. Hopefully I’ll get that answer in the coming months, or else it’s another year of avoidance.

Overall, I enjoyed Microsoft’s presentation for the Xbox 360 for the rest of the year and beyond. No terrible actors, no casual kiddy games taking control of the show, no fist bumping. Microsoft went back to what made them successful since the beginning and left the majority of fans, including myself, happy. Time to get my wallet ready for another busy season.

This video, from The Warp Zone, showcases us gamers. Yes we love our significant others (especially of the female variety), but there are times where things can go terribly wrong. Can gamers and lovers actually mix. Well check out this montage of “Shit Gamers Say To Their Girlfriends.” Then ask yourself if you’ve repeated any of these lines to your girlfriend.

Take a moment to think about these terms: Unlock Key, Downloadable Content, Bonus Content, Map Packs, New Characters, Skins, Collector’s Editions, Arcade Edtions, Ultimate Editions. The list goes on and on. For the past few years we’ve been subjected to these terms that have now become second nature. This console generation sure has seen quite a few changes compared to the past. Remember when you bought a game and everything was on it that was supposed to be there? Well that’s not true these days. The full price of a game you purchase off the store shelf is no longer enough. Welcome to “The Generation of Greed.”

Greed. According to Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street, “Greed is good.” Sure, maybe that line that is important when it applies to the stock trade industry, but what about the video games industry? Greed has been good to some. Companies like Activision, EA, and Capcom sure know about it. Why do I say that? Well that’s because they’ve been milking us for our hard earned money for years. Yes, even I’m guilty. Games like Call of Duty, Guitar Hero, Street Fighter, and every one of EA’s sports games fall under this catagory. Every year we head to the stores for the latest game only to find out it’s more like the same game we had before except with a slight enhancement. Doesn’t it make you feel just a little jaded?

Currently the greed train made another stop just last week when Capcom made the announcement of Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. It’s only been five months since the release of the original game, and Capcom has made the announcement of an updated edition. Now you can’t tell me that your just a little outraged over this. Back in February I spent $60 to buy the game which I enjoy playing a lot. I also bought both character packs at $5 a piece to add to the fun. Now all of a sudden you want me to spend $40 on the Ultimate Edition for more content? Are you kidding me?

Capcom stated last week that their original plan was to release DLC, however the recent events in Japan (earthquakes and tsunamis) has forced them to change their minds about that process. They stated that the content would be too large to do as DLC alone. So they decided that a release on disc was better. C’mon Capcom, please don’t tell me that your using mother nature as the reason for not doing DLC. That’s just taking things a little too far. In my honest opinion, that’s just a lame ass excuse. Remember Street Fighter II? All of those suposedly “new” editions that you released were basically the same game with just a longer name.

For all you gamers out there take a moment to think about this. How many times have you traded in a game to buy a new version? Almost every time right? Every Call of Duty players knows this since Call of Duty 4. The game that they play for multiplayer purposes has been the same except for a graphical facelift. EA’s sports games are the same every year except for a current roster update and graphics. Don’t let me get into Guitar Hero and all the other “Hero” games that came after it. At least Harmonix did things right with Rock Band.

Now what about the whole DLC issue. I’m not here to say that DLC is bad because it’s not. we all love map packs, new quests, and other cool stuff to extend the life of our current games. However, what about supposed DLC that’s already on the disc to begin with. This is known as an “unlock key.” Xbox 360 gamers can easily find this when content only registers at 108 KB. That’s an unlock key folks. Publishers and developers are using this strategy to get more bang for the buck because maybe they feel that $60 for a game is just not enough. When will the madness end?

With all of this in mind what will the future console generations bring. Will publishers and developers only release half finished games making you purchase the rest? Could game prices be going up in the next generation? Here’s a thought. Remember last generation with the Xbox and Playstation 2 having collector’s editions for specific games costing only $10 more than the usual $49.99 price. We all bought into it which helped ease the price of games to where it is today. Not just technology. We could be setting ourselves up for $69.99 games next time around. Just thought I’d warn you because this could happen.

With all this said, I don’t want you to say “I’m not buying any DLC ever again” or “I’m not getting Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3.” In November, I plan on getting the game. I will say to Capcom that this better be the “Final” version to this game. No Extra Special Editions or Arcade Editions with Turbo or even Hyper Fighting, because all this shit in this “Generation of Greed” is getting out of hand. Make it easy on gamers by releasing only one game. It’s not that hard. As for all the DLC, we’ll let our wallets and purses do the talking.