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Splinter Cell: To 1080p or not to p

Has the 1080p console era arrived sooner than expected, courtesy of Ubisoft? The above pic is screen cap from a debug copy of Splinter Cell: Double Agent for the Xbox 360 showing support for "true HD" (to use Sony's patronizing marketing terminology). GamePro says they received confirmation from Ubisoft that the retail version will indeed support 1080p. Elsewhere, 1up says their contact told them "No, it's 1080i" but admits things are pretty hectic at Ubi right now, so who knows? All acknowledge that 1080p support is useless without the necessary update Microsoft, expected some time in the near future (although GamePro theorizes that it could be included on the Double Agent disc). Even then, without an HDMI solution from MS, the much-hyped resolution would be possible only via the rare 1080p HDTV (Sharp?) that supports 1920x1080 via VGA input.

Meanwhile, back in standard-def-trying-in-vain-to-read-that -Dead-Rising-text land, the po' folk are snickering because their snooty 720p neighbors now have to go out and buy a new TV if they want to remain on the bleeding edge of the 360 community.

How many lucky bastards already have a 1080p HDTV and are just dying to put it to use? How many don't think they'll get a 1080p set for years?

Correction: As several readers have pointed out, only 1080p movies using the HD-DVD drive require HDMI. Games will work over both HDMI or VGA.

[Thanks Luke]

Test Drive: Updated (already)

In an era of over due patches (Far Cry, Dead Rising, etc.), credit Atari with responding to their customers in less than a week. Now that's an auto-update.

[Thanks srw985]

Circuit City back compat rip-off

For the bargain price of $28.99, the smiling crooks at Circuit City will help some gullible soccer mom install "backwards compatibility" on a newly purchased Xbox 360, despite the fact back compat updates are free via Xbox Live (or by mail for those without an internet connection). On a more positive note, a call to my local store confirmed that Circuit City does not charge Downes Syndrome kids double for all Xbox 360 related purchases. At least not yet.

Uno matchmaking fix on the way

for Xbox Live Arcade (currently the game of choice for Xbox360Fanboy editorial meetings) is generally percieved as a successful take on the classic card game -- with one major flaw: gamers attempting to play a ranked match are thrown into their own lobby instead of being matched up, resulting in an annoying wait for competition. Fortunately Carbonated Games tells us a fix is near. UNO Program Manager Richard Thames Rowan posted the following response to complaints on K1lla's Xbox Domain:

The UNO development team is aware of the problem that some people are having with matchmaking and has a fix going through certification right now. Hopefully, you'll see this roll out soon, so no need to email anyone.

Finally, ranked matches without a 20 minute wait. There can be only one.

Update hopes dashed

Major Nelson says there's no dashboard update included in the Xbox Live  maintenance scheduled for 2am PT, despite the misleading phrases tossed around  by customer service reps and recorded messages. And I was already buying into rumors about background downloading and a new blade devoted to E3. Is Microsoft really going to make us wait until Summer for the Spring update?

Oblivion Orrery Pack on XBLM

The Oblivion  Orrery Pack, which includes (according to Gamespot) "a new quest with original dialogue, journals, and rewards, access to the eponymous dwarven machine in the Imperial City's Arcane University, and new character powers based on the phases of the moon" is now available on XBLM for 150 MS points. I was about to complain that the announcement above was annoyingly premature, when the phase of the download moon suddenly turned in our favor.

You can thank the Dwarven Gods because this add-on looks like a much better value than the over-priced horse armor that pissed off half of Tamriel. Is this pack worth the points?

[Thanks Nick]

PGR3 auto-update has issues

The recent PGR3 auto-update features a bunch of great improvements to the game, but reader Pixelantes points out a couple of problems:

1. The rotating car class hoppers has been implemented so that the car classes rotate according to the players' local time. This means that around midnight people in different timezones see different car classes in the online races and they can't race each other. This combined with the rotating schedule itself is causing severe wait times in pre-race lobbies. People are reporting wait times in excess of 45 minutes.

2. Bizarre Creations didn't include a new garage with the auto-update, so while the total number of cars available in the game is 94 (?), there're only 84 garage spots available. This means you can no longer own all the cars in the game.

The lack of garage space sounds like a minor annoyance, but the timezone thing could be bad, especially heading into next week's global tournament. Can we get an auto-update for our auto-update?

PGR3 Speed Pack & auto-update hit gas

The previously discussed PGR3 "Speed Pack"  update is now available  for speedy download on Xbox Live Marketplace at 32.67MB for 400 MS Points. If you don't want to purchase the speed pack for all 400 points, each car is available individually for 60 points with the exception of the Aston Martin V8 Vantage which is available as a free download. The Speed Pack includes the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, Audi RS 4, Chevrolet Corvette Z06, Dodge Viper SRT-10 Coupe, Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, Lamborghini Gallardo SE, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII FQ-400, Nissan NISMO R34GT-R Z-Tune, Pontiac GTO, Radical SR8, RUF RT12, and the Saleen S7 Twin Turbo.

Even better, there's also an sweet auto-update with some major (Nelson) additions:

– Be one of 64 players to qualify with the best lap time using a car and route that’s predetermined. If successful, move on into the Elimination rounds to compete with 7 other drivers. The top 4 in each race move on until the final race where only the first place driver earns the victory.

Tournament Channel (Gotham TV)– Watch other players race in tournament Elimination rounds.

“Quit to Lobby” (Abandon option in PlayTime race) Host can now take all participants back to the lobby in a play time session, rather than booting them all back to the Play Time menu.

“Lock to Host Car” and “Lock to Host Car Class” (PlayTime | Xbox Live | Create Race | Race Mode | City | Route) are two new toggles that the lobby creator can turn on or off to limit what type of cars his/her competition can use in a play time race over Xbox Live.

Previously Played Routes List (PlayTime | Route Creator | Previous Live Routes) – Play other gamers routes that they created in the Route Creator over Xbox Live and store up to 10 in your “Previously Played Routes List”. You have the option to save or discard them and use them in your own sessions.

All Cars Position Toggle (More | Options | HUD | Position toggle) – In races modes with multiple cars where target is not displayed, this shows the current place every car in the race is in throughout the event.

Hide HUD Toggle (More | Options | HUD | HUD toggle) – This gives the player the option to turn off ALL in race HUD displays in all camera views.

Voice Communicator Identifier – In a multiplayer race the name of the gamertag will now flash in the upper left hand corner when speaking into a voice communicator, making it possible to identify the speaker.

Online Career rotating car class hoppers – All 8 hoppers in the Online Career (Breakneck Racing, Nurburgring F1 Challenge, Speedway Skirmish, Knockout World Tour, Nordschleife Drivers Club, Urban Rally, Gotham Duelling, and Dusk Til Dawn Racing) now change the required entry car class daily.

Wheel Support – Control set for steering wheels and dynamic updates have been added for the Hori, Mad Catz, and Joytech Nitro wheels (all via the More | Options | Controller | Wheel A configuration).

Online Qualifier Achievement – 50 gamerscore is now awarded for qualifying, then attempting the first elimination round of a tournament.

The HUD no longer remains invisible after looking back, hitting the Guide button, and then re-entering the game and it’s now possible to view if you have already purchased a car while shopping in the showroom via the “Cars Owned” tally under the Car Stats section.

Now how about support for a wheel with true force feedback?

Finally, an  important reminder for PGR pros and Gotham TV viewers: The PGR3 Global Tournament punches the pedal on Monday, April 17.

[Thanks to Sinz for pretty much writing this post]

Burnout: Revenge mystery auto-update

Remember that mystery meat the cafeteria lady used to dish out in highschool?  If you booted your copy Burnout: Revenge this evening you got an automatic update via XBL. Sounds good. The problem is, for a minute there nobody was sure  what this update did, including the Director of Xbox Live Programming (aka Major Nelson). Major says he doesn't have the full details, but you can now burn out in those cars you downloaded  from the Xbox kiosk.

Xboxic readers report it will also re-set the Top 20 videos every month, making it easier to get that achievement.

[Thanks Gary]

What's in that DOA4 update

1UP has details on what exactly is included in the XBL update for Dead or Alive 4 we mentioned earlier this month:

A pair of updates to the game are ironing out the Live kinks, adjusting damage levels to keep things more balanced, smoothing out frame rates, and even adding some new attacks. The first of the updates will even offer the option of resetting your online ranking to C.

How many people are happy with the new player balancing?

According to our resident DOA4 expert, Chris, the framerate smoothing they mention isn't accurate. The framerate dipped so both players would be on the same scale. The lag was the real problem, reducing the need for the game to slow itself down.
[Previously: Dead or Alive 4 updated, leaderboard reset]

[Thanks Brandon]

Multiple game patches released

Xbox Live's Major Nelson reports that the following titles will update when you start a game while connected to XBL:

King Kong
Xbox 360 Arcade: Smash TV
Xbox 360 Arcade: Hardwood Hearts
Madden NFL 06

No word on what the updates contain. The Major said he was working on obtaining that info from the publishers.

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