Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’


Another E3 has come and gone and with it some awesome new stuff to look at and some things we would have rather not seen.

Here at the TGA we are going to show you the top 10 the best things that you should look at and the 5 worst things from E3 2012.

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Out of the big 3 of press conferences Microsoft did not choose to step up to the plate. However, Microsoft had a very strong start and quickly gained momentum by revealing Halo 4 gameplay. Master Chief is in search of a ship that crash landed as it flew over his head. When the gameplay starts we were greeted with the trusted Battle Riffle (my favorite gun) and shortly after a familiar enemy, The Covenant. At this point I had yet to be impressed as Halo 4 seemed like it was just a graphically better Halo game, but quickly I was proved wrong as I saw new and interesting things. A strange red beam takes out the last Covenant as he disintegrates directly in front of you. As Chief pushes forward he as ambushed by a group of mechanical AI dogs. Once those are cleared another new enemy appears as well as a new gun. The new gun as equipped reminded me of something out of transformers and looked bad ass, Cortana recognizes that the tech is Forerunner. This new gun looks sick as does all the new Forerunner enemies. I was not sold on Halo 4 given that Bungie was no longer part of the project, but after seeing this at E3 I am sold on buying it. But don’t take my word for it, watch it for yourself and see.

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With E3 beginning in just a few short hours we here at The Gamer’s Abstract would like to throw out some predictions for the major press conferences. Alongside those predictions will be stuff that is most anticipated and the biggest shocker announcement of E3. This will be written in the order of the press conferences themselves.


You will see the big heavy hitter first party titles here. Expect to see some new clips involving Epic Games new Gears of War title, and also more in depth with Halo 4. Microsoft will want to reinforce why gamers choose Xbox 360 above all else with the strength of their first party IP’s and how they have exclusive content first to the market. Microsoft will remind users that Xbox is the only place to get Call of Duty content first on the market and show some gameplay footage from Black Ops 2. Look to Microsoft to have a dedicated time slot to just showing off the Kinect. As always this might include a bunch of kids or adults doing silly things on stage in their 2 minutes of fame. Xbox 360 seems to want to become more and more integrated for being the only media device one might need for a household (cable, dvd, bing, ESPN, etc.) . It will come as no shock to see that Microsoft will announce further integration with the mobile market and moving more into a cloud based system. Microsoft wants to be like Apple in that all their devices will talk and communicate with one another.  I do not anticipate that there will be any announcement or buzz for the new Xbox and will be absent from E3 until next year.


Sony may never outsell Microsoft but they do gain more and more ground with their IP’s each year. Look for videos of the new Assassin’s Creed, Sly Cooper  4, The Last of Us, The Last Guardian, God of War: Ascension, and the newly announced All Star Battle Royal. The Last of Us and All Star Battle Royal will be the highlight of the unreleased games during the press conference. The big push will not only reinforce why gamers choose the wide variety of exclusive games on the PS3 but will also focus on the Vita. Vita sales are less than what Sony would like them to be and gamers need a reason to go out and buy a Vita. I would recommend that Sony get Kevin Butler to do this segment as if anyone could get people pumped about buying anything gamer related it would be him. Expect Kevin to make an appearance at the conference and just like his appearance in 2010 people to be hanging on his every word. Vita will be seeing a price drop due to lackluster sales in the range of $50-$100. PS Move seems to be something that didn’t and still hasn’t caught on. Move will be mentioned but not to very much extent. Sony has been rumored in doing a strictly streaming based form of gaming sort of like onlive, I expect to see more details announced as to what exactly is in the works. With the PS3 still strong and the Vita in need of more sales it would not be smart for Sony to announce a new system at E3. I do not expect that this will be in the arsenal for Sony

All eyes are on the Big N this conference with buzz and hype all centered on Wii U. The name is here to stay as recent pictures of the tablet controller have the Wii U branded logo all over it. People want to know what it is, what the intended way to play this new system is, and what the recently leaked Rayman Legends trailer with Wii U means. (For those of you who do not know there was a trailer that showed putting action figures on the Wii U tablet controller and being recognized on the screen as an item, possibly game, or character. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSlccZt5O2o ) Consumers will see a release date of Early 2013 and no price point yet. There will be announced 1st and 3rd party games for the system possibly in the realm of Metroid, Mario, and Super Smash and how these games will work with the new tablet controller. Pikmin 3 along with the New Super Mario Bros 2 and the popular upcoming 3DS titles like Paper Mario and Luigi’s Mansion 2. And last as always we will be graced by the wonderful and charismatic personality of Reggie Fils-Aime. Who always manages to bore and annoy the crap out of me every E3 press conference.

With Predictions also comes the most anticipated already expected stuff that here at The Gamer’s Abstract are itching to know more about or can’t wait to see. Below is a list of what we here at TGA will be looking out for. Those things would be:

Castlevania DS and Lords of Shadows
Wii U (We want to know wtf this thing is)
Kevin Butler as always makes a great addition
Paper Mario and Luigi’s Mansion 2
Bioshock infinite
Resident Evil 6
Tomb Raider
Assassin’s Creed 3

The biggest shocker prediction to hit E3:

Valve will finally man up and announce Half-Life 3
What do you think will happen at E3? Post your comments in the section below and  remember to follow us on http://www.facebook.com/thegamersabstract


Milkstone Studios is back with another indie game called Little Racers Street, but is the game worth your time, consideration or money?  Simply put, yes on all fronts.

Little Racers Street is the latest Xbox Live Indie game from developer Milkstone Studios.  Milkstone has established themselves as a reputable Indie developer on the marketplace and their excellent reputation is only perpetuated by Little Racers Street.  LRS is an isometric arcade racer that offers an incredible amount of content in a small indie game package (and price).  The racing is fast and intense will have you clamoring for more after each play session.

Gameplay

The gameplay in LRS is by far its most defining feature.  Most of us have played some sort of isometric racer before, but I promise you none that perform like this title.  The point of racing game is to obviously beat your opponents by crossing the finish line before them, but what sets every racing title apart is how you go about doing that.  LRS has very basic, but delicate controls.  In order to win races and stay ahead of the competition you need to perfect the handling of each vehicle, because while this game emphasizes speed and acceleration; precision cornering and nitrous management is what wins races in this game.  The slightest miscalculation will run you into a wall and could cost you the race, while mismanaging your nitrous will leave you in the rearview of your opponents.  This might sound like a disadvantage for LRS, but the addictive nature of this title will bring you back to races to perfect cornering to increase lap times and finding the best spots to deploy nitrous.  With nitrous aside, I applaud LRS for putting emphasis on cornering because far too many games allow you to ride the wall and still have the ability to win; that is not the case in LRS.  The game also has 5 difficulty setting ranging from easiest to unfair (unfair is the difficulty description for clarification).  So depending on how fast you pick up the controls you have a difficulty to match.  One last thing to note; like most racing games LRS does factor in damage when credits are dispersed at the end of each race, so less precise or careless driving will net you less money after each race making it another reason to fine tune your skills.

Graphics

The graphics in LRS are very pretty for an Indie Game.  I’d even go as far as to say that it is probably one of the best looking indie games available on XBL.  The car models are very simple, but the lighting effects and driving animations are fluid and a sight to behold.  Smoke trails are left when drifting and nitrous trails light up the screen when boosting and I must say I was very impressed with these effects in particular.  An outline of your car will also illuminate when things hit the fan or when your view is obstructed behind scenery (and both will happen).

The environments are nothing to sneeze at either.  The variations in track designs while minor keep things fresh and also the weather effects (rain and snow) add a nice touch.  Day, Night and Dusk variants of each track also showcase different details making the same tracks look different which I thought was pretty clever.  Overall the game exhibits great design and the frame rate remains stable most of the time.  It has dipped on occasion, but nothing that interrupts the flow of a race or makes the experience any less enjoyable.

Presentation

LRS has a very simple layout and I think it suits the game very well.  There is no mystery as to what does what and you can jump into whatever you need to do with great ease.  The background at the main menu is dynamic which adds pleasant imagery when you are maneuvering through the menus.  The presentation isn’t a huge selling point for this game, but it doesn’t hurt the experience either.

Sound

The audio in LRS is superb for an indie game.  The sound effects for the cars are really good.  Engine noises are mostly uniform amongst the vehicles, but the sound effects are welcomed nonetheless.  Tires squeal when drifting, metal scrapes when you rub against walls and other vehicles beep when you hit them or cut them off.  The soundtrack steals the show in the audio department.  It boasts a well done mix of electronic music that compliments the “street” racing very much so.  Racing games usually have an eclectic mix of music that is all over the place, but the choice to go with an entirely electronic mix was an entirely appropriate choice to me.

Future Playability

LRS has a lot of content packed under its mini sized hood.  There are several challenges to complete with a ranking system for offline play and online leaderboards for lap times.  There is competitive multiplayer over Xbox Live and for system link play.  There are lots of cars to purchase (30+) and every car has the ability to be upgraded so that can also consume quite a bit of your time if you so choose.   All in all LRS has a ton of content for you to explore and will likely satisfy your need for an arcade racer.

Final Thoughts

I have spent a good amount of time with LRS and have taken a real liking to it.  It offers really fun and addictive gameplay and for only 80 MSP ($1) you can’t go wrong.  It is the most fun I have had with an arcade racer since NFS: Hot Pursuit if you needed anymore validation as to how good this game is.  It also has a car similar to the AE86 from Initial D (the Relampago 1.6 L) which is killer.  Also it will help support Milkstone Studio’s future products and updates (which LRS has gotten a few already).  Lastly the game does have a trial so if you are curious about it before making that huge financial commitment, give it a spin and see what you think.  As always you can follow us on Twitter @GamersAbstract and like us on Facebook for more content.  If you try out Little Racers Street and like it sound off in the comments section or shoot Milkstone an email, I’m sure they would love the feedback as well.  Until next time be easy everyone.

Little Racers Street was purchased by me for 80 MSP ($1).  It is currently available in the XBLIG market on the Xbox 360.  I have invested around 4 hours into the game prior to this review and plan to invest many more.


When I turned my Xbox 360 on this morning I was prompted for an update.  Unless something huge is being rolled out updates usually don’t make headlines, so I really didn’t think anything of it.  This update almost went under the radar until I went to search for some new indie games and noticed the layout had changed.  This kind of threw me for a loop and for a moment I thought I was searching in the wrong area of the dashboard.  After careful examination I realized that the infamous “Game Type” button had been removed and that Arcade, Indie, and Games on Demand each had their own dedicated buttons within the Games Marketplace.

Say goodbye to this and the Game Type button that preceded it

A celebration is in order because that was one of my biggest beefs with last fall’s dashboard update.  Finding downloadable games became so layered that prior to today it made finding new games a bit cumbersome, but not impossible.  I also remember a slight uproar in the Indie developing community because the search ability for indie games was buried a few levels deep.  Well worry no more you unsung heroes of video game development because your games are now easily accessible within the games marketplace.  I think that everyone will be pleased by this slight adjustment to the games marketplace and it will make future browsing much more accessible.  We think this update works well, but maybe you might have already gotten used to the previous build.  If so sound off in the comments section and let us know what you think and as always you can follow us on Twitter @GamersAbstract and like us on Facebook for more content.


This past week a ton of rumors have been circling around the web about the next console from Microsoft, but none that created as many waves as the rumor about the next Xbox rendering used games obsolete.  This is still just conjecture, but if this rumor becomes reality the landscape of Video Game retail will forever be altered.

The reigning king of speculation

I have read many opinion pieces regarding this topic and have discussed the idea with some friends/colleagues and most people are 50/50 on the idea.  The bargain hunters who like to score games cheap (usually used) or share games with their friends were completely floored by the notion of one user per game and then conversely you have those who like to support the developers by buying new; ensuring that the money spent goes to creating new titles and keeping people employed.

I too am torn about the idea as I like to save money, but I also like to support the industry that I love so much.  So below I propose some ideas as well as some pros and cons about this potential feature in the next Xbox.

Ideas:

These ideas are some food for thought.

  • XBLA and Indie Games already undertake a similar formula.  Only you have access to them and cannot share or sell them.  A majority of people purchase titles like these and don’t have an issue with it.
  • A lot of people complain about how expensive games are.  Yes they are expensive, but video games are also a luxury and cost more now than ever to develop.  If you can’t afford them then you need to wait till you can.
  • PC Gaming has been doing this for years.  When you purchase a PC game you get a registration code that registers that product to you.  Steam and Origin also offer games digitally and are for use with one person (to the best of my knowledge).  You also can’t trade or sell these games to someone else.
  • If developers are getting all of the money from the purchase of a game there is a good chance that they will make it cheaper quicker.  Think about it; if everyone purchased games brand new developers and publishers alike would recuperate their investment and costs much faster.  So we could see prices drops on either the game or maybe even start to see more DLC for free.
  • Used games are great, but most gamers feel entitled to them.  Like they should be able to get the game cheaper and not have to pay any additional costs.  People also complain about online passes, but don’t understand how much it costs to maintain a server.
  • This might not even mark the end of used games.  The online pass showed that used games could exist, but if you wanted to go that route you would have to pay extra for online functionality.  The same format could be done for an entire game, but it would more than likely cost more and probably even push a used game above new retail price (which kind of defeats the purpose, but the option is still there).

Pros:

How this will benefit the industry and us.

  • The money we spend will be reinvested into the developer allowing them to create either more of what we like or be able to take a risk and develop a new IP.
  • Not necessarily a guarantee, but if consumers had to purchase titles new instead of used we would all hope that we would get our money’s worth.  So more bang for our buck and maybe even greater access to exclusive content and DLC.
  • There will hopefully be a reduction in job layoffs in the industry.  We see far too often that companies are laying off tens or hundreds of people because games either didn’t perform well or that the company didn’t make enough money off a certain property (do to either poor quality or used game sales).  I am not trying to tell you buy anything that comes out to support a developer; the game still needs to be good to you and worthy of your money.

Prevent companies that try new things from losing workers

Cons:

How this could affect the industry and us.

  • Major retailing chains that rely heavily on the sale of used games would be affected greatly. (I.e. Gamestop and kind of Best Buy)
  • Rental services like GameFly that rent and sell used games would be adversely affected and depending on licensing fees might close up shop.
  • No more borrowing games from friends or trading them in popular online forums (I.e. CAG Marketplace, Game TZ, etc.).
  • Online outlets such as Ebay and Amazon that offer online marketplaces for used games would be rocked and could potentially lose a huge number of customers as well as sellers.
  • Microsoft could potentially alienate themselves amongst other hardware developers and inadvertently create an incentive to purchase another piece of hardware pending others don’t follow suit (I.e. Playstation 4 and Wii U).

Dark days could lie ahead for the mega retailer

This is going to be a huge topic of conversation amongst gamers and industry professionals until it is either squashed or confirmed.  It is an important issue and like I said earlier most of us here at TGA are torn on the issue.  With that being said we want to know what you think about this topic.  Do you support it?  Do you think its crazy? Will you buy another console if you can play used games on it?  What ideas, pros and cons do you have?  We want all these answers and more in the comments section so please sound off.  We love your feedback and as always you can follow us on Twitter @GamersAbstract and like us on Facebook for more content.


Battle 5 between PS2 and Xbox ended in a tie (first one yet).  So we are going to have a rematch to decide a winner.  Voting will be done in the same manner, so cast your votes again and we can only hope that the results do not repeat themselves (if they do some coin flipping will be in order, potential YouTube video).  So go vote on Battle 5 again and the voting will end today at midnight.  As always you can follow us on Twitter @GamersAbstract and like us on Facebook for more content.


Cold Blooded killer

Battle 4 is over and the Nintendo 64 is our victor.  The N64 is ruthless, killed his own brother the Gamecube.  Well one of them had to die, but anyways Battle 5 is between the 128-bit juggernauts the Playstation 2 and the Xbox.  You can factor in the controller variants for this one if you would like.  So I should say PS2 vs. Xbox (fat boy and controller s).  The voting is live and will run up until tonight at Midnight (so don’t wait too long).  Happy Thanksgiving to all that celebrate it and check back tomorrow for Battle 5 results and a Battle 6 announcement.  As always you can follow us on Twitter @GamersAbstract and like us on Facebook for more content.


Some people worry about technical specs and some worry about what the launch titles for a new system will be and while both are important and worthy of discussion I am more concerned with another topic in regards to the next generation of hardware; what approach will the Big 3 take in terms of a target market?  This generation we saw both the casual and hardcore gaming markets expand; especially the casual.  This generation successfully made gaming accessible to anyone from toddlers to grandparents and everyone in between.  But is the casual market becoming too important to hardware manufacturers?  I’d say yes and no and here is why.  The Wii ushered in a new way to play games, but at the same time tapped a demographic that had never been tapped prior to its inception.  Casual gaming was an idea that had been tossed around, but was really never taken seriously or seen as a viable platform for companies to embrace (the original Eye Toy for example).  The Wii kicked conventional and traditional gaming models in the teeth and really established the casual market.  The casual market exploded once the Wii took off and became the hottest item to have and not only made casual gaming fun it also put the whole industry on notice.  Companies like Microsoft and Sony had to rethink their approach in regards to casual gaming and it came down to either sinking or swimming.  Enter the Kinect and Playstation Move; casual gaming options on hardcore platforms, a huge moment for both companies respectively.  Where the Wii originally had almost a complete lock on the casual market, Microsoft and Sony had swooped in and staked their claim.  Both the Kinect and Move have seen proper and poor integration of their alternative playing options (just like the Wii), but casual gaming is only part of the equation, and like I said earlier I think it is important, but also it is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted or milked excessively.

The future could be in the Kinect's sights

A balance must be struck, but I think it is going to be more of a juggling act.  We saw two consoles [Xbox 360 and PS3] have individual identity crisis’s because of how pervasive casual gaming became.  They sought to change everything they stood for to cater to a new market and I will not chastise them for it.  It was a necessary move (no pun intended) in order to bridge the gap between their two audiences.  Gaming is big business and you need to be well versed in all disciplines to remain competitive.  I just want them to remember that there are two sides to the coin and that a hybrid market needs to be implemented in order to satisfy the gaming community at large.

There is a lot riding on this for Nintendo

With the Wii U already on the table and nothing really concrete on Xbox 720 or PS4 yet it is hard to tell how each will approach this next console generation.  The Wii U seems to be treading on familiar ground like its predecessor, but I don’t think that will not be enough to sustain Nintendo for another cycle.  I remain hopeful for Nintendo though.  The Kinect is a really cool piece of tech that will more than likely be integrated into their next platform mainly because of its late start.  The Move might have life after the PS3, but that is completely contingent on what Sony’s main focus is.  The Move hasn’t really seen anything too stunning, but maybe that can change with a new piece of hardware.  I am pretty confident that all three major consoles will have motion controlling options, but how they are integrated will make or break the bank.  The next year will undoubtedly be very interesting and I hope that no matter what approach the Big 3 take they do not alienate anyone in the process, because that wouldn’t be very nice, would it?

Will Sony "Move" on after PS3?

How do you feel about casual gaming?  Do you enjoy it or do you prefer a more traditional gaming experience?  If you were one of the Big 3 how would you handle this dilemma?  Sound off in the comments section and let us know what you think.  As always you can follow us on Twitter @GamersAbstract and like us on Facebook for more content.


One of our awesome team members Ryan brought this trailer to my attention earlier today and I am now sharing it with all of you.  This is a fan made, yes, fan made Halo movie trailer that is looking like it will be turned into a full fledged feature (fingers crossed).  If you are a fan of Halo definitely watch this, share it and support the production of this movie.  This is top notch folks so I will leave you to the trailer of Halo: Helljumper, enjoy.