Microsoft has announced that the Gears of War "Hidden Fronts" map pack will become a free download starting this Labor Day (which is Monday for our international friends). The map pack will officially become free starting at 2:00AM PT September 2nd. It should be noted that this isn't a timed promotion akin to the XBLA price drops this weekend, but rather a permanent change. So, if for some reason you still don't want the map pack on Monday, you can always pick it up some other time, free of charge. The "Hidden Fronts" map pack includes 4 maps: Subway, Process, Garden, and Bullet Marsh. If you'd like a refresher on what these maps contain, you can view our rundown after the break.
Coming from Gamefest 2007, it looks like Microsoft might be changing its tone on user created content. Longtime followers of the Xbox 360 will know that user created content has long been sought after by Microsoft, though it is somewhat hindered by the fact that all downloadable content has to be cleared by Microsoft before it can be distributed via Xbox Live Marketplace. At Gamefest, it was revealed that developers can circumvent this restriction by using what is called Xbox Live Server Platform (XLSP). Using XLSP, publishers can provide content directly from their own servers instead of Marketplace. Of course, such publishers would be solely responsible for all content delivered by these means. Also, use of XLSP by any publisher must be approved by Microsoft. During a panel at Gamefest, someone even asked if it would be possible to create a PC level editor that built levels playable on an Xbox 360. In response, Microsoft Software Design Engineer Zsolt Mathe said, "Even though nobody has done that, I would highly recommend that."
Given Epic's recent lamentations concerning user generated content for Unreal Tournament III on the Xbox 360, perhaps XLSP is the answer.
[Via BeyondUnreal. Thanks, Dave]
Update: 1UP incorrectly states that XLSP stands for Xbox Live Silver Platform. DXL540 informs us that it is in fact Xbox Live Server Platform, which makes a bit more sense. Furthermore, DXL540 sends us an SEC filing from Activision detailing what's possible with XLSP.
This morning, Rein sent out a statement condemning the lawsuit Silicon Knights brought against Epic a few weeks back stating that they (Epic) "did nothing wrong" and that they are "committed to fully defending against Silicon Knights' unfounded allegations". Rein further expressed Epic's anger with the situation saying that "Silicon Knights wants to take Epic's Licensed Technology, pay nothing for it, and use it any way it pleases" and as a result are counter-suing Silicon Knights. Epic feels their counter-suit is justifiable and claim that Silicon Knights is accountable for breach of contract, copyright infringement, misappropriation of trade secrets among other things and are looking for compensation no less that $650,000. Let's just say Rein and the Epic gang aren't going down without a fight and things are going to get a lot hotter before they cool down. Fight!
Also worth nothing, in the second part of the interview, which has yet to be published, Rein admits that the reason for the delay of the Xbox 360 version of Unreal Tournament III is that Epic has yet to sort out how user created mods will work on 360. Rein notes that in the "worst case scenario" Epic will submit user created mods to Microsoft for certification and offer them as downloadable content. Rein adds that, "hopefully between now and whenever it is we ship on Xbox 360, we figure out a user-managed way to do it." Our fingers are crossed.
Read -- Mark Rein interview, part 1
Read -- Epic struggles with UTIII mods on 360
"I'm sure if they'd actually had a big Halo 3 presence, if Microsoft had set up eight machines or 12 or 16 machines so you could sit and play it, it would have won all kinds of awards. But they don't need to because, like me, everyone's already placed their order... So I think that worked against them at E3."
Hmm, interesting logic we guess. But Mark's comments further confuse us when he later tells CVG that it was a "smart move" to highlight other Xbox 360 titles and limit the amount of Halo 3 exposure. Hmm, didn't Mark just say he thought it was a bad move to not show a bunch of Halo 3? Well, now we're just confused Mr. Rein.
In the end, we like to think that the Halo 3 E3 trailer was good times and helped fans get a feel for what the campaign has to offer. But at least we can both agree that we don't have to be sold on Halo 3 and are buying it no matter what.
NECA has announced a new partnership with Epic Games, in which it will produce a new line of Gears of War collectibles. Said collectibles are set to include action figures, busts, dioramas, and even "prop" replicas (full size Lancer anyone?). The
[Via Gearheads of War]
Anyone willing to bet that Gears Mac will have even more content than Gears PC all of which won't be available to 360 owners? Anyone? Nobody? Shucks ...
Being the Gears fan that I am it's hard to hear that new, exciting multiplayer AND campaign content will be available, but not for 360 owners. And no, there's no way I'm personally buying a beefy computer to run Gears of War PC just to experience the new content. No matter how you slice the news it sucks for 360 owners and Gears enthusiasts ... it's simple as that. Now, I'm going to go cry myself to sleep.
[Thanks, Jason S]