Gadling's resident pilot explains what life in the cockpit is like
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Xav de Matos
Toronto, Canada - http://www.thelevelgrind.com

It’s Xav de Matos. That’s like Have with a Z. Public Relations major by day, gaming journalist by night. Xav has been in the industry for over five years with stints in retail management all the way to blogging for www.Xbox360Fanboy.com; part of AOL’s Joystiq Network. Xav's GamerTag is: Snypz. Why is Xav writing in third-person? Xav doesn't know.

XBLA Portal file size exception, not the new rule


According to Microsoft, the hefty 629MB file size of Portal: Still Alive for the Xbox Live Arcade is not setting a new maximum standard for games on the service.

In response to inquires made by our sister-site Joystiq, Microsoft stated: "We have set file limits as a general guideline. An important part of Xbox LIVE Arcade is easy access and keeping file size down is a vital part of that. Equally important is offering titles with superior game play. We weigh both considerations on a case-by-case basis, and will make exceptions when it makes sense to ensure the best customer experience." In May, Microsoft increased the XBLA file size limit to 350MB.

So, the XBLA still has a hard file size limit ... except when there isn't. Wait, what?

X3F scores Gears 2 COG tag, numero two


With only 1000 in existence the Gears of War 2 COG tags are some of the most sought after bonus items to acquire for any Xbox 360 game, and now X3F now has two. This tag, coming from a small stockpile of only 30 in Canada, comes straight out of Toronto and enjoys hockey, Tim Horton's coffee and the Toronto Maple Leafs -- as bad as they are, unfortunately. Want to unlock its secrets? Check out the Gears of War 2 COG tag 'Last Day' site to find out what this tag reveals. Punch in the CSID #: 777150-V2V3U-EL and unlock the mystery within ... spoiler, it's a rad wallpaper image of Marcus Fenix pulled from the Last Day trailer.

Make sure to check out our hands-on with Gears of War 2 Act One today!

Gallery: Gears of War 2 - COG Tag #2

Joystiq: New Xbox Experience exposed!


With the New Xbox Experience (NXE) just weeks away our sister-site (with the help of X3F's own Richard Mitchell) has developed the most in-depth preview of every major upgrade to the system. Spanning nine different video features, the Joystiq NXE preview will outlines everything from the new Guide, Avatar creation and customization, Community Games, the new Video and Games Marketplace and much more.

Video Feature Breakdown
  • NXE Overview, My Xbox, The Guide
  • Marketplace, Community Games, Avatars
  • Party System, Installation, Netflix

Penny Arcade Adventures Episode 2, virtual Jeff Foxworthy hit XBLA


The second episode of the extremely successful adventure game, Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, and Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? hosted by a virtual Jeff Foxworthy are now available on the Xbox Live Arcade. The double-shot of Arcade fun will leave a gaping hole within virtual wallets as both titles ask 1200 Microsoft space-bucks, if you decide to buy them both or separately that is.

Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? is based off the popular game show that quizzes contestants on 21 different subjects used in the current curriculum in the 1st to 5th grade range. Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode 2 continues the story of web comic icons Gabe and Tycho and the user's created character, searching for answers and revenge in a steam-punk inspired universe. Picking them up or not? Tell us why in the comments.

Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts demo on the XBLM


We woke up this morning and thought, "Wouldn't it be nice if we could build some kind of flying car?" As though they read our minds, Microsoft has released a demo for Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts on the Xbox Live Marketplace. Clocking in at a hefty 1.07GB the demo allows gamers to play with the unique vehicle creation system that is the basis for many of the challenges in the upcoming platformer. Looking to flex your creative muscle? Hit the Marketplace and download the demo now. Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts ships on November 11, exclusively on the Xbox 360.

Video: Gears of War 2 launch trailer

In 10 days Gears of War 2 lands in stores and once again the COG soldiers do battle with the Locust horde in a fight to the death. 15 years after Emergence Day, Marcus and his super friends return to battle backed by an enhanced Unreal Engine 3, new weaponry and what Epic Games promises to be a memorable storyline. The launch trailer, as seen above, showcases snippets of the entire game and serves one major purpose ... completely aggravate gamers that it isn't November 7 right now as we type this post.

Make sure to check out our in-depth hands-on with the first act of Gears of War 2 today but be warned there are some early game spoilers within!

Video: Zombies at War, first footage of the new World at War mode

A few days ago Treyarch announced a special mode included in Call of Duty: World at War that unlocks once the game has been completed. Dubbed the Nazi Zombie co-op mode, the additional feature pits gamers against hordes of zombies armed with World War II era weaponry. Cue your best, "World Exclusive" voice-over and watch the first footage of the mode above. We're conflicted about the mode though because while it looks cool it does seem a little silly to have something so historically innacurate in a World War II game -- flamethrowers don't traditionally carry that much ammo. Someone at the Treyarch research desk totally needs to be talked to about this.

Splatterhouse teaser leaves everything and nothing to the imagination

Sometimes a teaser is released that makes the whole, "This game is not yet rated thing" seem a little silly. This is one of those pivotal moments in gaming history. GameTrailers has exclusively revealed the teaser trailer for the upcoming Splatterhouse reboot from Namco Bandai, publishers of cheery games such as Eternal Sonata and Pac-Man ... anything. While the trailer only shows about 2 seconds of what appears to be in-game footage we can safely say Splatterhouse will involve buckets of blood and brutality. Totally getting an "E 10+" rating. You heard it here first.

Microsoft matches Crisp reward, investigators turn to Xbox Live


Brandon Crisp, a Barrie, Canada, teen has been missing since October 13 following a fight with his parents for taking away his Xbox 360. As hundreds of volunteers scour the area Crisp was last seen, console giant Microsoft has matched the reward for information regarding his whereabouts. Upping the reward to $50,000, Microsoft has also caught the attention of investigators who have requested the Xbox 360 manufacturer breach its normal privacy protocol and release information regarding the gamers Crisp had played with prior to leaving home. Since his disappearance Crisp's parents have publicly stated they fear the 15-year-old, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare fanatic, has been lured by gamers and may be held against his will.

"Law enforcement has contacted Microsoft about this matter and we are co-operating fully with them. We are unable to comment further on the nature of our co-operation because of the ongoing investigation," a Microsoft representative told The Globe and Mail.

While it is not uncommon for lawsuits to arise against game makers from parents who fear their children have become obsessed with videogames, Chris Bennett, a Vancouver-based lawyer who runs the Video Games & Interactive Entertainment Law blog, states ultimately the medium is not at fault because ultimately parents are responsible for what their children are watching on television and for the games they play. Crisp's father has made it clear that the family isn't attempting to vilify Microsoft or the console in anyway, telling The Globe and Mail, "I'm not on a witch hunt. I just want my son back."

We continue to hope for Brandon's safe return home.

Fable II glitch fix completed, missing DLC codes resolved later today


Good news and bad news. Good first, that Fable II "Abbot Quest Glitch" that borked your save game of the recently released Lionhead RPG has been completed! Bad news, Lionhead doesn't know when the patch will be released to players. Lionhead community manager Sam Van Tilburgh confirmed [via Kotaku] the team has been hard at work fixing a number of issues players have revealed on the official Fable II message boards and promises the biggest issues -- such as the Abbot Quest -- have been resolved.

Van Tilburgh has also confirmed the problem with missing DLC codes for special in-game content, which was included in the Fable II Collector's Edition will be resolved sometime today but was scare on details. As an apology to gamers who have been hit with either issue, Lionhead will post redemption codes for Fable II Pub Games on its blog so players can download the XBLA title for free.

Kind of a strange way to distribute the codes, sure. But free is free. Unless you already bought it. Or got it for free from pre-ordering. Hey, imagine you pre-ordered the Collector's Edition? That's like getting slapped twice, just saying.

Bethesda requests all Fallout 3 video to be pulled from gaming sites


Bethesda Softworks has demanded requested all videogame sites remove Fallout 3 trailers due to an ESRB compliance issue. While the letter sent to editors of sites hosting the content, including our sister-site Big Download, is extremely vague it's left the gaming world scratch their head considering gamers are getting their hands on the title today.

"In connection with ESRB's advertising guidelines, you are instructed to remove immediately any of our Fallout 3 trailers from your website, pending further notice. Thank you for your attention to this matter," reads the email sent from Bethesda VP of Public Relations and Marketing Pete Hines.

Joystiq has contacted Bethesda for more information but you're probably on your way to the store right now -- if Fallout 3 appeals to you that is -- so, does it even matter?

Penny Arcade Adventures Episode Two this Wednesday, 1200 points


*beep*beep*beep* This just in Microsoft has made what we already knew official: Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, Episode Two will debut on the Xbox Live Arcade this Wednesday. Arriving at 1200MS Points -- a few dollars cheaper than the original for those keeping score at home -- the second chapter continues the story of Gabe, Tycho and the revenge-seeking hero, You.

To recap, this Wednesday will ask Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader with Jeff Foxworthy -- of all people -- provide Marble Blast Ultra DLC and a new achievement and now the sequel to the popular adventure title from HotHead Games. That is an expensive day to be an Arcade fanatic.

Free Marble Blast Ultra DLC coming this Wednesday


In case you missed the announcement conveniently combined with next week's amazing XBLA release on Major Nelson's blog, here's a news tip that is sure to send classic Arcade fans in a frenzy. On Wednesday Marble Blast Ultra will receive free downloadable content. Weeks ago we were tipped to three new achievements that pointed at a MBU map pack and, while not confirmed as of yet, this content may be related. At least we'll be downloading something this Wednesday, amirite?

[Thanks to everyone who sent this in]

GameStop pre-order nets early access to Left 4 Dead demo


Looking for an early start at the zombie apocalypse? According to its Left 4 Dead product page, GameStop is offering early access to the much discussed demo for the upcoming co-op shooter. From November 6 until November 11 pre-order customers will have access the demo which Valve's Doug Lombardi recently confirmed would include the first two maps of the first level (each level is five maps in length) of the game. There is no word when the demo will release for non pre-orders but with a few days between the end of the early access and the November 18 release of the game we anticipate it to be shortly before launch. Anticipate and hope is the same thing, right?

[via Big Download]

Xbox 360 tops PS3 in Japan for sixth straight week


Looks like Xbox 360 has landed itself above the PlayStation 3 in Japan for the sixth straight week, according to Media Create. Still on the heels of Japanese-style role-playing titles like Tales of Vesperia and Infinite Undiscovery the Xbox 360 has come out on top -- fourth overall in sales behind the PSP, DS and Wii -- against the homegrown Sony system for the week ending October 19. Coming soon for the console is The Last Remnant from Square Enix a title that mixes both Western and Eastern gaming conventions into one tight little package and the currently exclusive Star Ocean: The Last Hope, which will land early next year worldwide. Can Microsoft sustain a steady stream of console sales in Japan? Maybe, but if they really want to make a splash they should look into getting the rights to a game with the words "Monster" and "Hunter" in the title.

- PSP: 159,816 135,915 (568.66%)
- DS Lite: 29,839 2,075 (6.50%)
- Wii: 26,024 3,147 (13.76%)
- Xbox 360: 7,856 93 (1.20%)
- PS2: 7,261 279 (4.00%)
- PS3: 4,725 1,009 (17.60%)

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