Xbox One U-Turn

After overwhelming negative feedback about the Xbox One’s online requirements and second hand game restrictions, Microsoft have announced that they have changed these features.

xbox one

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Fable 3 First Free Game for Gold Subscribers

The 360 version of Lionhead’s Fable 3 is currently free to Gold subscribers on Xbox.com.  This appears to be just the first game to be given away, as Microsoft have announced plans to allow Xbox Live Gold subscribers to claim two free games per month.

Fable III

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The Witcher 2 – Xbox 360 Info

CD Projekt have revealed that the Xbox 360 version of third-person RPG The Witcher 2: Enhanced Edition will be released on 17th April.

The console version of the game will include new cinematics, four additional hours of gameplay, new characters and locations and more.  A PC version of the Enhanced Edition will also be available for sale, whilst existing owners will receive the new content via a free download.

An exclusive Dark Edition, including some extras for hardcore fans and collectors, will also be made available on the same date.

The Witcher II has also been announced as one of the upcoming additions EA’s digital distribution service Origin, along with Trion Worlds’ RIFT.

ScampLAN 2

The weekend just passed was ScampLAN 2, with a couple of friends bringing their PCs round to our house for gaming and silliness 🙂

We played a lot of Dungeon Defenders.. which I had a look at last week.  This game has really grown on me over the week..

I’ve now tried out all the characters, but the one I’ve played most has been the Huntress, who specialises in traps and ranged weapons.  I felt she was slow to get off the ground with.. the traps start off with only a few charges and are soon used up.. but after gaining many levels and improving both the traps and the character’s stats, she now feels quite powerful 🙂

When you level up, you can spend your points on stats for the character or for your towers.. I’ve spread my points out between the Huntress and her traps, but another friend has put most of his points into his Monk, making him fantastic in combat but with rather weak auras.  For the characters the three of us developed over the weekend, this worked very well, as it meant the mana could be spent on building and upgrading stronger towers and traps, without getting too close to the defense unit cap.  We got as far as the Servant’s Quarters during the weekend!

Another game we had a turn at was Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising.
We tried to play this previously, but thought we might do better if we were in the same room and able to communicate a little better.  However, as in our previous attempts to play, we found barely-visible enemies were able to take us out with ease.. the game is supposed to be about realism and tactics, but if I’m approaching on my belly through trees and bushes, I don’t think it’s realistic to be shot down so quickly by people I can’t even see yet.

I also suffered from a rather random bug, which had my character float up into the air before being thrown back down again.. and of course, taking realistic fall damage.  This happened a few times, but settled down enough to complete the mission.  However, the fun was lacking for most of us, so we didn’t go back for a second mission.

In between the gaming I had a bit more of a poke around with VoxelSniper on Minecraft.
I had a failed attempt to add Zombe’s flying mod.. not quite sure what went wrong, but the game wouldn’t launch.. before I installed VoxelAir, which allows me to jump high into the air and land without damage, or hover above the ground.

You can jump rather a long way up.. and when I came down, I was surprised by the crazy number of mobs which had spawned!

I found an interesting bug with VoxelAir too.. after being killed while hovering, courtesy of a few Skeleton Archers and a lack of care, I respawned still hovering.. floating upwards in fact!  Using the “/give” command simply dropped a new feather at my feet, out of reach.. a friend also tried to give me a feather but it also landed out of reach.  In the end I used “/kill” a number of times and eventually spawned close enough to a feather for it to pick up.

Next up will be forming a nice piece of flat land for a huge project.. more later 🙂

With four people and a reasonably couch to take advantage of, there was also some console gaming.. though we found a distinct lack of co-op games allow four people on one console.  So many games boast “2-4 player co-op”, but don’t specify that this means two people on one console, and two on a second console.. annoying.  We tried Call of Duty: Black Ops.. we wanted the Nazi zombies, but only the arcade mode allowed all four of us to play.  We had a couple of runs on that, with me claiming the top spot for one run!  Red Faction: Armageddon failed us, as did Rainbow Six Vegas.. so we ended up shooting each other in Halo 3 which entertained us for a while!

Hunted: Demon’s Forge was picked up at the start of the weekend too, and we attempted some co-op in pairs.  We all found the game surprisingly hard, though Tim and Jason attempted to play without going through a tutorial first.. masochists!  I think the game would be a lot easier if you were able to carry more than one health vial each.. we also found the game punished deaths by sending us a long way back each time.  I’m looking forward to playing the game by myself at some point soon, too.

Another game which made an appearance over the weekend was Gears of War 3!
I hadn’t yet finished Gears of War 2, but the copy of #3 will be going home with Jason at the end of the week, and Tim wanted to start some co-op, so we’ve been playing through it anyway.. on hard!

So far, I’m loving it.. though noticing a few changes! The world has been destroyed by the Hammer of Dawn, and the enemies now include mutated Lambent creatures.. I’m noticing a huge change from the graphics of the original Gears of War as well, with the character models all being far more refined.  Good changes all round.. and still a great game, as far through as we’ve gotten this far! 🙂

Space Marine Multiplayer

I completed the singleplayer last weekend, and have since attempted to play multiplayer on the PC with little success, thanks to the only friend with the game installed being unable to join online games.  We tried with a private game, but eventually this crashed, taking out the network here and putting us off trying again..

However, thanks to work I also have a copy on the 360, and this weekend I went for a few sessions of multiplayer with randoms on the 360.  Surprisingly, the random players I met during the weekend were decent, and the only abusive phrases used were as part of banter with each other. 🙂

I discovered that in Space Marine, I much prefer Seige Mode to Annihilation.. capturing points adds a bit more direction to the game, especially when random players aren’t looking to work together as well as friends usually do.  This also gave me another source of XP, and so I was able to unlock the Customiser to make my very own purple Space Marine!

Sadly there are only five maps at this point, so eventually it started to feel a bit repetitive.

An update is due in October, and as this will add co-op, it may see a bit more action.. so long as there is no recurrance of the network problem!

Duke Nukem Forever

After trying out the Duke Nukem Forever demo a while ago, I wasn’t going to pick up the full game.. however, we have a Love Film subscription which includes games, and we decided to rent it for the 360.

I’m rather glad we did, because it’s really not such a bad game.  Simple, maybe.. still limited to two guns, but in the game itself it doesn’t feel so much of a limitation as it did in the demo, as you frequently come across more weapons that you can switch between.. and for the most part there’s a decent number of enemies and plenty of ammo.

The game started off like the demo, at the urinal, passing through the toilets and shower, with EGO boosts for interacting with certain things.. including throwing poo.  There was also an achievement for this, which means anyone looking over my Xbox Gamercard will now know my shame!  Following the Cycloid boss fight, you go for an interview on TV.. of course I explored the building on the way down, microwaving popcorn, signing an autograph for a little boy (badly, with the game pad!) and sticking my fingers in wall sockets.. Zap!  My TV show was cancelled.. so on I went.. no aliens yet, but a rather annoying guy mouthing off in the next room.  I was going to walk past him, but noticed a prompt as I got close which let me punch him.. that gave me an achievement and shut the guy up 😉

This was the sort of silly humour I’d expected from Duke..

The next level, the Duke Cave, had more random things to interact with, aliens to fight, and a nice puzzle involving a remote-controlled car.  After this, the aliens attacked properly, and I got to fire on the mothership itself!  Plenty of variation, which continued as I was then shrunk, and had to hitch a ride in a child’s toy car..

As the place was under attack there were plenty of aliens to avoid, and obstacles which I jumped over thanks to turbo speed and ramps created from conveniently fallen posters.. sadly the car didn’t make it further than this level as the final jump over a chasm ended with it wrecked.

Here was another boss fight, and the annoying twins’ abduction by aliens.  There was also a golden Shotgun here, which Tim tells me (now I’ve swapped it out) gives an achievement if you keep hold of it till the end of the game.  D’oh!

Duke doesn’t like his women being taken.. so he goes after the aliens, heading to the Duke Dome.  Highlights here included an ugly, floating boss who fired rockets from his undercarriage.. a good few waves of enemies and plenty of big guns and turrets, and a huge boss which had me laughing out loud at the end as the finishing move included drumming on his nuts, then him keeling over, cupping them!

The alien Hive was the next level.. creepy, with crying women moaning about being pregnant.. well.. fair enough, as the babies inside them were rather more like chest-bursters..  the twins exploded as I got to them, after a bit of dialogue which was more annoying than funny.  Creepy, with organic-looking textures, fast-moving bugs which reminded me of headcrabs, spindly arms which poked out of walls and hurt, and pods ready to explode.. there were also some bizarre wall-boobs, which Duke enjoyed slapping, and very dodgy sphincter-doors which Duke had to tickle to open..

Eventually, I found the Alien Queen..

She shields herself with her claws, so to hurt her you have to throw pipes onto the bouncy pads at the sides, and detonate them when they reach her.. this makes her drop her guard and allows time to fire a rocket or two at her, before she fires more Pregnators at you.  As well as damaging you, these squirt ‘juice’ into your face!

I haven’t managed to beat the Queen yet, as when I get her to low health she destroys the useful jump pads and brings along an “octobrain” which so far has put me down straight away.

Short break from the game, then.. but I will have to finish this soon so that we can return it! 🙂

i-42

Where i-40 was cold and windy, especially in the temporary structure we were seated in, i-42 was sunny and hot almost the whole way through.. 😀

I drove half the way down, with a death-grip on the steering wheel (I’ve not done very much motorway driving), past a ridiculous number of lorries and one place where an accident on the other side of the road caused our side to slow to around 10mph.  Tim took the last part of the driving.. we were hoping to catch up with another friend at this point, as text messages had shown we were only 5 minutes behind, but with a stop-off at Sainsbury’s we were never going to make it. 😀

Check-in was again nice and quick thanks to arriving early, and instead of waiting around to take our PCs in at 6, we headed to the pub for food and drinks first.

All in all this was far better than the cold and wet start to i40 last year.. we hadn’t been able to go into the site as the internet hadn’t been set up for our temporary structure!  Our group were seated in B1 this time, away from the loud and annoying people who think roaring for every reload is ‘atmosphere’.  Although it was still hot, there was a balcony to escape to, and it was a lot quieter and nothing was being thrown around.. definitely going to be pushing for this spot next event.

One of the first games I played here was the awesome Portal 2, which I had started earlier but lacked the time to finish.  Plenty of other people were playing, with some on co-op, so I had to get a move on to avoid being spoiled..

I loved GlaDOS’ malicious comments in the earlier part of the game, though I wondered how I was going to end up making a break for it as she seemed happy to test me endlessly.  Wheatley was quite funny up until his change, which I think I should have spotted.. but I was rather gleeful when he turned GLaDOS into a potato even if he did still have me trapped.

The different coloured gels were a lot of fun.  On my first encounter with the white goop though, I wasn’t entirely sure what to do and ended up covering as many surfaces as I could in frustration, before spotting the little ledge I was meant to go to.  I loved evil Wheatley, especially when he tried to kill me in stupidly obvious ways.. 🙂

The second day of LAN involved a barbeque with the rest of our group.. we had the weather for it this time at least.  I’m not sure if we’re technically allowed to have BBQs on-site, but no security turned up, so no matter 😉

We also took a look through the exhibition hall, where we tried out a few games on the Nintendo 3DS, including Dead or Alive: Dimensions, Kid Icarus: Uprising, and a Zelda game which made me feel quite ill trying to focus on the screen while moving it around to aim the catapult.  While I love the idea, I’m going to be staying away from the 3DS.. if I feel bad after a few minutes use, it’s just not for me.

Aside from this, the only other real point of interest for me was the Demon stand, where they had an amazing car simulator running DIRT 2.  The fastest lap was to be rewarded with a year’s free internet, and of course I came nowhere near the quickest time though I loved the experience.  The seat, pedals and wheel come to some crazy price.. I think £24,000 was mentioned..

Elsewhere in the hall it was surprisingly quiet.. no freebies, and very little attempts by staff to draw people in to the various stands either.  There were people playing on what might have been some kind of tournament, but with no real interaction, we wandered through and back out again.

There are usually a number of flyers on the desks, and this time there was a 50% discount for the EA Store.  After trying out Bulletstorm on a friend’s PC, I bought both that and Crysis 2.. so much for not buying any more games.. 🙂

I made a start on Crysis 2.. but there were too many distractions to concentrate on it during the day and I was playing Amnesia: The Dark Descent when it got late.  There were a few changes to the sections I’d seen in the demo, with a bit more puzzle in the form of the chemicals I needed to find and mix.  The part where I had to avoid an invisible enemy in the water made me just as jumpy as when I’d originally seen it, which was probably amusing for those near me in our row.

Other games which saw some action were Beat Hazard on a friend’s computer while he played GRID on mine, some Killing Floor, an attempt at League of Legends (seriously out of practise) and a round or two of Unreal Tournament 3.  I had also brought along my Xbox 360, so there was a quick look at Stacking, and a bit of the co-op Zombie Mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops, as well as an all-too-brief look at Homefront for a friend who hadn’t seen it yet.  Maybe next time!

Tim made some use of his 30 day trial of WoW, though it was hard to tell if he was enjoying it or putting up with it for the sake of saying he’d had a go.  I also managed to get a little bit of time in WoW, and started off collecting bits for the Noblegarden Easter Event.. there were plenty of bunnies hopping around, including a pet.. 😉

I also pestered a friend to show me where to get the rather interesting Venomhide mount.. a pet which turns into a mount!

Unlike my Warrior friend, I had no trouble in being poisoned the required number of times.. he had to take off all his gear and use the most useless weapon he could find, whereas I just hit the Ravasaur with the basket I was collecting eggs in 😉

Eventually I had been poisoned enough and I was given my own Hatchling to take care of..

Our last night of LAN included some non-gaming hijinks as one friend started falling asleep in his chair.. this meant he got plastic cups balanced on his head :>
There was no chance of an all-nighter this time either.. all too tired, maybe from the heat, and we headed back to the tents at around 4.30am.

The last day didn’t include the usual CFMN vs inv TF2 match; instead we had a big game of L4d2 versus.. for which I had to switch to Tim’s PC as my copy of L4d2 had managed to corrupt itself.  Awesome game.. will have to make sure that we get more of this played from home too 🙂

The Eagle and The Apple – 1191

I’ve spent most of the last two weeks laying on the couch being ill, but even so, there’s only so much daytime TV that anyone can tolerate.. Console time!

Assassin’s Creed was glaring at me from the pile of unfinished games, so I swapped TV remote for 360 controller..  Looking at the achievements, I started playing this game before they were storing the date when you earned them.  The earliest dated achieve is from the 5th December 2007.. quite some time back.. and about time to finish it then 😉

When I originally started on the game, I absolutely loved the free-running, climbing around on buildings, then up to the highest point and leaping off again.  Picking off enemy guards one by one very quickly replaced this as my favourite thing to do, especially when I was able to pounce with the hidden blade and feel oh so powerful! 🙂

One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard against the game is about the repetitiveness of the missions.  This was something I hadn’t really minded until this week, when I returned to the cities for new targets, and found myself faced with pretty much all the same missions types to do again..

I never got bored of the quick assassinations with the hidden blade.. and the joy of running and jumping across rooftops only lessened a little with time.. but I did get fed up of the rescue civilian, sword fight, blend and walk away routine.. or more specifically, the annoying sword fights where I really didn’t do well.  Block?  Counter?  Maybe if you’re facing the right attacker, and time it just so..  No.  I preferred picking people off with the throwing knives, or y’know.. assassinating them all sneaky-like with the hidden blade.

The beggars and drunks in the various cities, which I found a different challenge earlier, quickly began to annoy me.. the beggars for their whiny voices coupled with the fact they kept on getting in my way, and the drunks for randomly punching me, one time sending me flying into a guard and getting me killed.  Following this, I barged the drunks over where I could, and either threw beggars into walls or punched them to make them leave me alone.  I stopped short of killing them, annoying as they were, because killing ‘innocents’ leads to a loss of synchronisation and therefore a bar of health.  Strange values this game teaches.. 😉

Now.. I mentioned that I didn’t do so well in the sword fights.. this meant that I avoided them where I could.  So what do we have for our final bosses?  Sword fights, with nowhere to run and get some height or even just a breather, nobody to pickpocket for extra throwing knives..

I found myself raging at the game while I got killed over and over and over by Robert de Sable’s grunts, especially when multiple attackers would be able to make me stumble between strikes, taking half my health in one flurry, and when counters just threw the guy uselessly to the ground without causing any damage.  I realised later that I could have gotten rid of the floored guys right then by switching to the hidden blade, but being tired, ill and then angry on top of that, does not make for thinking..  I’d got to this point of the game by 3am, and guessing that I was nearly done I decided to finish off.  Of course, once angry, I wasn’t going to leave it as I wouldn’t want to come back.. and I’m stubborn!  Instead I found myself hoping to be grabbed and thrown, as this would let me regenerate a bar of health, and then deliberately avoiding the last two grunts while my health regenerated enough to face the boss afterwards.

When it came to Al Mualim, the game-breaker was this time running round and round the yard while my health regenerated, though during an angry flail at the buttons I switched to the hidden blade and got shut of one guy.  Realising this trick made the whole thing easier.. now, if only I’d had to actually learn that earlier in the game I would have had it down for the grunt fight.. but I thought a game about assassination should be about sneaking and picking targets off rather than running at guards yelling “I’m here!” and taking on as many as possible.  Ah well..

Game completed, anyhow.. it’s only taken three years! 😉

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