Joystiq recently got a chance to try out Gears of War for the PC at DigitalLife. The verdict: it's Gears of War alright. Beyond some necessary changes made to the control scheme for mouse users, the game is essentially the same one we all fell in love with last November. Joystiq does note that the visuals are markedly improved and pulling off headshots is (expectedly) much easier with a mouse. The build at Digital Life has its share of problems and bugs, but such problems should be ironed out in time for the game's release later this year. Hit the "read" link for Joystiq's full hands-on impressions.
So, we've all managed to plow through the Halo 3 campaign now, right? After all, the game has been available for more than 24 hours, so everyone should have beaten it by now, all of its secrets laid bare. Good, because now it's time to delve into campaign scoring. A brand new feature in Halo 3, campaign scoring helps players net achievements and find a way to compete with their friends even during cooperative play (as if Team Slayer wasn't enough?). Bungie.net has posted a campaign scoring guide to help players get the most out of the feature. For those that have been wondering how many points each Grunt, Brute, and Jackal are worth, the guide is the place to find out. Not only that, but the guide explains difficulty multipliers (i.e. kills are worth more on Heroic than on Normal), style multipliers, and Halo skulls. By the way, the guide contains spoilers, so those still avoiding them had best look away. The rest of us, however, can get the most out of campaign scoring using the guide.
Oh, the guide also gives a few "tips" on how to maximize your individual score at the expense of others. Our favorite: melee your teammate as he charges into the fray. This will drop his shields. By the time he softens up the enemies, he'll probably be dead, leaving them all for you. Hello multikill bonus!
[Update: Microsoft is now offering free replacements for scratched discs received in the Halo 3 Limited Edition throughout the rest of 2007. It should be noted that those wishing to use this program will have to pay to ship their original scratched disc to Microsoft. The replacement, however, is free. For more details, follow this link. Thanks to Matthew Mac for pointing this out.]
Joystiq reports that many gamers are receiving scratched discs in the Halo 3 Limited Edition (the one in the tin case). Well, we can confirm that report, as our very own Limited Edition came with scratches (as you can see above). Upon opening the package this morning, the "Essentials" DVD, which contains bonus materials, was loose in the case. The game disc was held firmly in place though, so no worries there. The scratches on the disc appear to be minor. So far, we haven't encountered any hitches in our bonus content, so we're not rushing out to make an angry return just yet, but we'll see. For those of you who have yet to pick up your Limited Edition, you may want to check it out before leaving the store.
It's not often that we here at X3F get a chance to review a high profile title like Halo 3 before it hits store shelves, and it's an opportunity I'm not taking lightly. I've spent the last 48 hours (give or take a few hours for the requisite food and sleep) embedded deep within Halo 3, doing my best to categorize the experience as I went along. In this endeavor I have more or less failed. That's not to say I didn't enjoy what I played, because I absolutely did. It's just that with as many features as there are in Halo 3, there's so much stuff to test that 48 hours really isn't enough time to glean enough information and condense it into a review. Still, review it we must. Read on for a (hopefully) defining glimpse into Microsoft's great green hope.
Forza fans finally have something to be excited about. After tooling around for months with the same ol' boring cars, Microsoft has announced new downloadable content for Forza Motorsport 2. Technically, there are two bits of DLC, including one free car and an additional pack of ten cars for 400 MS Points. The free car is the 2007 SEAT Leon Cupra. The pay content includes cars from all over the spectrum, including American muscle, European sports, and Japanese tuners. While no specific date is given, the content should be on Xbox Live Marketplace sometime this weekend. See the full list of new cars after the break.
Before the cries of "OLD" start filling the comment threads, yes, we knew that Halo 3 was leaked several days ago. We chose not to propagate the story, but it seems to be reaching critical mass now, so there's no point in ignoring it. And before you ask, no, we're not telling you how to get it. The game data, which clocks in at about 6 gigabytes, is being shared and downloaded on a number of file sharing sites. According to gamesindustry.biz, the file has already been downloaded in the thousands. Of course, the file is only playable on modded Xboxen, which means that online multiplayer will likely incur a hefty swing of the Microsoft Banhammer. Considering that multiplayer and online co-op are more or less the heart and soul of Halo 3, downloading an illegal copy seems a little on the lonely side, thrilling though it may be to put one over on The Man. At any rate, the leak is sure to be an upsetting, if not unexpected, blow to MS and Bungie.
Speaking to IGN in behind-closed-doors meeting at TGS, Hironobu Sakaguchi, head of Mistwalker, intimated that the upcoming RPG Lost Odyssey will span 4 DVDs. Considering Mistwalker's previous title, Blue DragonMass Effect managed to hit retail on 3 DVDs, this isn't exactly surprising. Still, in the dark circles of the internet, the announcement is still likely to spark up the Blu-Ray / DVD debate yet again. Note to 360 defenders: the galaxy-trekking Mass Effect fits quite nicely on one DVD.
In less flame-worthy news, Sakaguchi also announced that Lost Odyssey will ship with multiple language options including English and Japanese, though facial animations will be synced to the English dialogue. Sakaguchi explains that many western movies are shown in Japan and that English lip sync is more or less a sign of gratitude to the support of Mistwalker's western audience.
[Via Evil Avatar]
Ask and ye shall receive. It looks like the Viva Piñata Party Animals demo promised by Piñata Island has made its way onto Xbox Live Marketplace. Unlike the original Viva Piñata game, Party Animals makes more use of the licensed characters, endowing them with the voices and personalities that viewers have become accustomed to on the television show. As a party game, it also takes a simpler approach than its predecessor, which was arguably a little to complicated for its target audience. But, enough talk of marketing and design decisions, go give the game a try and see what you think.
According to Piñata Island, the source for all things Viva Piñata, a demo for Viva Piñata Party Animals should be on the Marketplace today. Actually, according to them, the demo should be available right now. Considering that it isn't available right now, we're guessing one of two things: A) Piñata Island got some bum info or B) something has gone awry. Seeing as Piñata Island has some close friends in the Viva Piñata circle, we're betting on column B. Here's hoping we'll see it sooner rather than later. If you're unfamiliar with the title, check out our impressions of the E3 demo (which is likely the same demo being prepared for XBLM).
Much has been said about the positively massive advertising campaign for Halo 3. Commercials, books, toys, product tie-ins, race cars: Halo 3 is everywhere. It seems anyone and everyone is eager to get a little Halo cross-promotion going, Hell, even banks are starting to catch the fever. Sure, we know that Microsoft is keen to help the series transcend the gamer ghetto and jump out into the mainstream, but what's more interesting is the number of products that Microsoft hasn't allowed. According to Reuters, Microsoft has actually been very careful to make sure that Halo merchandise is relevant so that the company doesn't "piss off" millions of fans.
To that end, Microsoft has rejected more than a few merchandising ideas. Among them are (no kidding) Halo 3 lottery tickets, toy guns (as opposed to replicas), and (no, seriously) lingerie themed after the game's sassy holographic AI, Cortana. Good call, Microsoft. Good call.
[Update 2: Pro-G now reports that Microsoft has backpedaled on it's threat to ban Xbox Live users for playing Halo 3 before its September 25th street date. It seems the bans reported earlier only apply to Microsoft employees. So, if you are not a Microsoft employee, enjoy your new pre-release copy of Halo 3. Thanks to ejb for the update.]
Reports are flying, literally flying into the X3F Report Catcher® that UK retailer Argos has broken the September 25th street date for Halo 3. The news originates from Eurogamer, where users of its forum noticed a message on the retailer's website claiming that they could pick up their reserved copies of the game today. First of all, if you live in the UK, you're probably out of luck now as the retailer has caught on to the mistake.