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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.

Video: Prepare for Fallout 3

Console gamers may not realize that Fallout 3 isn't the first jump into the post-apocalyptic universe -- you know, if the 3 in the title wasn't a glaring indicator. Looking to catch up before Fallout 3 lands on the Xbox 360 tomorrow? GameTrailers has developed a 15-minute retrospective on the famed series that will showcase how Bethesda has decided to evolve the series into an Oblivion style game -- much to the chagrin of some of the original fans. Excited for Fallout 3? Tell us in the comments below but if you've been lucky enough to play it early, do not spoil anything ... a swift banhammer will be in your future if you do!

X3F Hands-on: Gears of War 2 - Act One


Whether you realize it or not, Gears of War 2 is the most important title for Microsoft this holiday season. Promising a longer and more story focused experience than the 2006 award-winning original, Epic Games hopes the return of Marcus and Dom will resonate with story loving gamers of a post BioShock, Portal world. We had a chance to play through the first act of the final version of Gears of War 2 recently, jump in to find out if the beginning of the anticipated shooter starts off strong or leaves us wishing for more.

Disclaimer: While major story elements have been made purposely vague in this article we should qualify that some of the following feature contains spoilers of the characters and scenarios in Act One of Gears of War 2.

Continue reading X3F Hands-on: Gears of War 2 - Act One

Call of Duty: World at War includes Nazi Zombie Mode


Looks like Treyarch has taken a cue from Valve's upcoming Left 4 Dead and the world's love of zombie action. Developer Treyarch has revealed that Call of Duty: World at War will include a Nazi Zombie Mode, in the latest edition of GameTrailers TV. Once the single player campaign has been completed players will gain access to the mode which sends waves of Nazi Zombie adversaries in the players direction.

The mode sports an economy system which allows players to purchase new weapons and rebuild barricades to slow down the zombie rush. How crazy does it get? According to Treyarch the team got to the 23rd wave before becoming overwhelmed by the zombie horde. Now that is a cool little extra.

Gallery: Call of Duty: World At War Nazi Zombie Mode

Video: Inside Xbox at the Fable II launch event in Toronto, Canada

Last week X3F was lucky enough to attend the Canadian launch of Fable II for the Xbox 360 in Toronto, Canada. While throwing back a few brews, invited members of the Xbox community in Canada were able to play through the retail version of the game a week before its release. Canadian Xbox 360 owners connected to Live are now able to see some highlights from the event on Inside Xbox -- including interviews with (a mid-flu) Xav de Matos and our friend DjDatz. Non-Canadian members of the community are invited to check out the video above and see exactly what alcohol can do to some Canadians. Think of it as a Fable II promo and a public service announcement ... all rolled into one.

Sam's Club bundles full Guitar Hero 3 with Xbox 360 Pro


Microsoft looks to be attacking the casual-core this holiday with its bundle strategy and Sam's Club has found itself in the middle of the fight. Sam's Club is offering an exclusive bundle that includes a 60GB Pro console, LEGO Indiana Jones, Kung Fu Panda and the full version of Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock for $349.99. That's right the entire game and guitar included with the standard Xbox 360 Pro bundle currently on store shelves. Sporting the largest packaging a console has ever seen this Xbox 360 bundle is a fantastic value -- sporting an additional $50 asking price on top of the regular $299 price-tag. On the streets we call this a deal. Now, to Sam's Club!

[via Kotaku]

Army of Two set to hit the silver screen, no seriously


According to The CutScene blog from Variety the EA Montreal developed co-op third person shooter Army of Two has been optioned for a feature film by Universal. Currently attached to the picture is writer Scott Z. Burns (of The Bourne Ultimatum fame) and producer Scott Stuber (who was once attached to the failed Halo movie). EA is set to produce the film, a first for the publisher who has recently sold rights for a film based on The Sims and Mass Effect.

"The ambiguity of these private military corporations lends weight to an intelligent thriller with relevance to what's going on in the world right now," Burns told Variety. "I told EA right off the bat I wasn't a gamer, and that appealed to them because they didn't want to simply replicate the game."

Isn't a gamer? Well, Burns had better stay true to the fantastic lore that was outlined in the Army of Two game. You know, the blinging out of weapons and ... other things they did in that game. Seriously though, Uwe Boll must be spinning in his grave. Oh, he isn't ... never mind.

Industry vets sound off on sex, violence, ratings and design


Peter Molyneux, Greg Zeschuk, Cliff Bleszinski and David Jaffe are four of the industries most respected, creative developers working today and also have the distinction of creating some of the industry's most controversial titles. From the over-the-top violence in Gears of War to the sexual content found in Mass Effect, this quintet of creators know their way around industry hot-buttons.

Over the past few months the team at the content knowledge site What They Play have interviewed each of the creators for their distinctive views on the sex, violence, ratings and design in videogames.

"If the blood is graphic, exploding out and all over the screen, you instantly know you're successful. I'd use flowers and confetti but I don't think it would be nearly as effective," Bleszinski said of the violence level found in the upcoming Gears of War 2. "You know, there's a huge M on the freaking box. If your eight year-old kids can acquire $60 and you're not aware what they're doing with it, you've got bigger problems than your kid playing God of War. You're a sh*tty parent," adds Jaffe.

BioWare president Greg Zeschuk, whose 2007 role-playing title Mass Effect was lambasted by the mainstream media for its sexual content, pointed out how our society is dictating content. "It's all obviously a reflection on society," says Zeschuk. "The bottom line is that violence is just more acceptable than sexual content in the U.S., which makes an interesting situation for game developers. You have to really balance these tolerances."

Check out the entire feature at What They Play and let us know what you think about sex, violence, ratings and design of videogames in the comments.

Barrie teen runs away from home, parents blame online games


For nearly two-weeks 15-year-old Brandon Crisp has been missing after running away from his home. The Barrie, Canada, teen stormed out of his house during the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend when his parents took away his Xbox 360, arguing that his excessive play of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was affecting his sleep and social skills.

According to earlier reports, Brandon told his parents he would run away if his system was not returned and, in an effort to "call his bluff," his father helped the teen pack his belongings. Brandon's parents now fear that he has been "lured by gamers" through the Xbox Live gaming service, "It could be organized crime or someone involved in Internet gambling. Pedophiles can stalk kids through these games," Brandon's father told The Star.

While it's easy to argue how Xbox Live is being misrepresented in this situation the fact remains that Brandon, who purchased Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare -- an M Rated title intended for gamers 17 and above -- with his own Christmas money, is still missing and his family is completely distraught. We hope for his safe return home.

Bioshock 2: Sea of Dreams teaser confirmed

Remember that rumored teaser trailer for BioShock 2 that was reportedly found within the depths of the PlayStation 3 version of BioShock? After a week of speculation, 2K Games has confirmed the trailer is legitimate. Gamers can download the trailer on the official BioShock website and on the Xbox Live Marketplace, now. Considering the trailer can be accessed on the PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 it appears that the title will find its way to all platforms but 2K rep Charlie Sinhaseni was a bit cagey on the details in a response to GameSpot, saying only "BioShock 2 is destined for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Windows PC platforms."

No announcement has been made regarding any kind of release schedule, timed exclusivity or exclusive downloadable content for BioShock 2: Sea of Dreams, which is being developed by 2K Marin and not 2K Boston -- developers of the award-winning original. Time to open that wallet Microsoft!

Download in HD (20MB)

X3F Hands-on: The beginning of Far Cry 2 on a movie theater-sized screen

A few years ago the gauge for graphical fidelity was how good water looked in engine. Today, it's all about fire. Alone in the Dark, Call of Duty: World at War, Gears of War 2 and now Far Cry 2 all show off its flash by igniting the world in flames.

We were able to hit the classy Yorkville area of Toronto, Canada, to launch of Far Cry 2. While we've played around with the map editor and fired a few rounds at other events the launch party was special because we were able to play the entire game projected onto a movie theater screen.

Gallery: Far Cry 2 (Ubidays '08)

Continue reading X3F Hands-on: The beginning of Far Cry 2 on a movie theater-sized screen

Pirates raid Xbox release calendar, leak Gears 2 & Fallout 3 among others


It looks like the Xbox 360 is trying to take the piracy crown from PC gaming. Dirty, filthy pirates have leaked copies of the Xbox 360's recently released Fable II and upcoming Fallout 3, Gears of War 2 and even more titles we don't care to list. We're bringing it up because it's news -- and we keep getting a pile of tips about the leaks -- but know that we're just as mad!

All we can do is sit back and hope that they'll trip up and attempt to connect to live and Microsoft initiates "Operation Red Ring of Death" on their disrespectful butts. But, it's cool. We'll buy it and play it legit because we're real gamers and real gamers respect the games we want by throwing down hard earned cash. So, what does that make pirates? Infinitely worse than ninjas. It's a loser by association thing.

Note: We will not post links to these available downloads and any user who attempts to in the comments (or post spoilers) will have their comment deleted and find themselves served with a hefty banhammer.

[Thanks to everyone who sent this in]

Rock Band 2 free DLC is indie-tastic


We have good news and we have bad news. The good news is Harmonix has officially announced the 20 free downloadable songs [via IGN] they promised gamers with the purchase of Rock Band 2 -- make sure you're registered first! The bad news is the rumored list of tracks was completely bogus and said 20 tracks are from relatively unknown bands -- although we're sure some fans will argue that point.

Actually, scratch that. There is no bad news. Why? Because you're about to get 20 free tracks to play in Rock Band 2. Sure, it isn't anything of the same caliber as the upcoming AC/DC expansion but did we really expect big names to hand over their tracks on the arm out of good faith? They only have two mansions and three cars, you know? How can we expect them to give a song away for free ... you're just being insensitive to their grotesque wealth. The tracks will be made available for download on November 4, full listing of tracks after the jump.

[Thanks to everyone who sent this in]

Continue reading Rock Band 2 free DLC is indie-tastic

Lionhead forum users complain of Fable II freezing issues


According to forum posters on the official Lionhead forums, Fable II is experiencing issues and constantly locks up. The majority of the comments point to the game experiencing issues when attempting to load a save game file although some claim to have issues even loading the game for the first time. While we cannot say if the problem is widespread, we wonder if the recently released online co-op patch may have something to do with it considering we did not have any issues pre-patch. Of course any speculation now would be ... well, just that ... speculation. We are currently awaiting an official comment from Microsoft or Lionhead regarding the situation. Of course we must ask, have you experienced issues with Fable II freezing?

[Thanks, KoAlex87]

Portal: Still Alive teleports to the XBLA, requires hard drive


Update: As a commenter pointed out, Portal: Still Alive clocks in at 630MB. Microsoft increased the XBLA limit to 350MB in May. With memory cards capped at 512MB, Portal: Still Alive becomes the first Arcade title that cannot fit on a memory card and requires a hard drive.

Original Story: Is it possible to write this post without the following references: cake, lies and catchy songs? Well, let's see how this works out.

Now available on the Xbox Live Arcade is the Valve title that landed on over 30 Game of the Year lists in 2007 with an additional 14 maps: Portal: Still Alive. Asking 1200MS points, this version of Portal is the same title released last year but includes new challenge maps -- that would be the 14 we mentioned before -- making it a solid package for new gamers to the game. For the rest of us who've played it, we could see the benefit of grabbing the pack if we've ditched our copy of The Orange Box and wanted to net 200 new achievement points. Who here is picking Portal: Still Alive up on the Xbox Live Arcade today?

Hey, look at that. We finished this post without mentioning the cake, lies or the catchy song ... uh, those don't count.

FilePlanet giving away World at War beta keys


Attention soldiers: Looking to enlist in the good beta fight of Call of Duty: World at War? According to a slew of tipsters, FilePlanet is offering a limited supply of beta codes to some lucky members beginning today. In order to qualify, players must sign-up for a FilePlanet account or use an existing account -- a free account works, too -- and wait for notification if they've been selected for the Xbox 360 test.

Recently, Treyarch increased the level cap to 24 adding new perks and challenges to the online fray, the developer aims to give its upcoming Pacific-theater, World War II shooter an extra push before it releases to retail this November. Players looking for beta access are urged to register for the contest as soon as possible because codes are going fast. Looking for more on Call of Duty: World at War? Check out our impressions, including video footage.

[Thanks to everyone who sent this in]

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