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Microsoft said a few weeks ago in its latest financial release that they have sold six million Xbox 360 console worldwide so far and even though there is less than two months to go before the end of 2006 Henson told us they are confident that the total worldwide sales of the console will top 10 million before the end of the year. Currently over 4 million people have signed onto Microsoft’s online Xbox Live service. Microsoft has never officially announced how many people have signed onto their paid subscription Xbox Live Gold service for the console but Henson did reveal to us that a majority of Xbox Live users have indeed paid for the Gold service. Do a little math and that means that at least 2 million people are paying for full-featured Xbox Live.
Henson also talked to us about their Xbox Live Arcade, which has already seen a lot of success. Henson told us that the next Xbox Live Arcade game will be released this Wednesday and will be a port of the classic shooter Contra. Other games like Defender, Assault Heroes and Novadrome are scheduled to be released on Xbox Live Arcade before the end of the year. Henson told us that for 2007 there will be a more even mix of updated retro games (but with improved graphics, leader boards, achievements and more) and all new original titles for Xbox Live Arcade. And then there’s Microsoft’s push for the XNA Studio Express game development tool, which will see a final version in December and will allow people who sign onto Microsoft’s subscriber program to use it to not only create simple games for the PC, but also for Xbox 360.
We also asked Henson about the comparisons that are already being made between the Xbox 360 and the upcoming PS3 and Wii. Microsoft’s Xbox Live service offers a free Silver membership and a $49.99 a year Gold membership that among other things allows players access to multiplayer features in Xbox 360 and Xbox Live Arcade games. However, both Sony and Nintendo have already said they will offer free multiplayer features for their respective next-gen consoles. So will Microsoft break down and offer the Gold features for free at some point? Henson flat out said that he doesn’t see Microsoft turning away from their current plan mainly because Microsoft sees Xbox Live as having several features that neither competing console is currently slated to have. Henson made a point about how people playing online games on Sony’s PS3 network will have to have a separate friends list for each game along with their basic Sony Network ID, rather than the unified Gamertag that Microsoft offers for Xbox Live members.
What about other extra features for Xbox Live members? For example, both Sony and Nintendo will have Internet web browsers for the PS3 and Wii when they launch. We asked Henson if a future update for the Xbox 360 will include a similar feature. Henson said that the capacity to add such a browser would not be difficult but indicated to us that based on their focus groups and surveys of Xbox 360 members adding such a feature to the console would not be desirable.
With the introduction of high definition movie and TV episode downloads for the Xbox 360 it’s clear that while still concentrating on the video game features Microsoft sees the console as more than just a game machine. Will they be able to get a leg up on Sony who has a ready made list of movies, TV shows and even music to choose from if they decide to offer a similar download service? Will people get annoyed that the movie and TV downloads will be restricted only to the console and cannot be transferred to any other device? Will Microsoft’s line-up of games for this fall and for 2007 be enough to fight off the heavy hitters from Sony (Metal Gear Solid 4 and Final Fantasy XIII) and Nintendo (Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Galaxy)? Only one thing is for sure in this next-gen console war. Right now it’s truly anyone’s battle to win and even with Microsoft’s one year head start its clear the company isn’t taking their lead for granted.
Elemental: Fallen Enchantress Preview Elemental: Fallen Enchantress is a standalone expansion pack and follow-up to developer Stardock's previous game in the series, subtitled War of Magic. That 4X strategy game was highly-anticipated and slated to compete with games such as Sid Meier's Civilization V for your turn-based strategy play-time, but was released in an incredibly broken and unfinished state that it never fully recovered from. Lead designer Brad Wardell apologized profusely to fans and set out with his team to go back to the drawing board and try again.
Almost two years later, the result of that proverbial mulligan is currently undergoing closed beta testing. In today's article, Will reports his thoughts on how Fallen Enchantress is shaping up, and will tell you whether or not you should be keeping an eye on it as it nears release later this year.
The Elder Scrolls Online Details Leak - Should Fans Be Excited? The Elder Scrolls Online, long rumored to be in development, was officially announced yesterday. Still in development at Zenimax Online Studios, this MMO aims to combine traditional genre mechanics with the spirit and sensibilities, not to mention setting and lore, of the immensely popular series of single-player RPGs. Though the game is set for a full unveiling in the next issue of Game Informer magazine, what appears to be the entire cover story article has been leaked to the interwebs already. In today's article, you'll find summary and analysis of all the alleged details, as well as feast your eyes on the very first screenshots and concept art from the game. Of course, the burning question now is, should you be excited?
ANNO 2070 Review
The year is 2070. The majority of life on Earth was devastated when global sea levels surged after the melting of the polar ice caps. Swaths of previously habitable land are now deep underwater, and sovereign nations are a relic of the past. But there is still hope...
This city-building RTS/simulation game from Ubisoft tasks you with re-colonizing what little land areas are left on the planet following a global warming apocalypse. Does it have what it takes to be worthy of your time and money, or should it be cast out to sea with the rest of civilization? Find out in today's review!
Hear that? It's the sound of the largest computer chip manufacturer in the world churning out new processors to power your gaming rig. This week, Intel is launching their next generation of Core CPUs, code-named Ivy Bridge. Like last year's Sandy Bridge chips, they're low-power, quad-core powerhouses that also feature integrated graphics processors. Want to find out more? Maybe check out a whole bunch of performance benchmarks on both the CPU and graphics sides of things? Well you can, in today's review!
Intel Z77 Chipset & DZ77GA-70K Motherboard Overview
Looking forward to those new Ivy Bridge CPUs? In anticipation of their release later this month, Intel has already unveiled the new Series 7 chipsets designed especially to take advantage of what will be the 3rd-generation of Core processors. In today's article, we take a look at the architecture of the enthusiast variant, the Z77, and how it's used in the Intel Desktop Extreme DZ77GA-70K motherboard. Even if you're not particularly interested in the motherboard itself, you'll probably want to see some of the new features that come along with it, so read on!
Mass Effect 3 PC Review
This latest release from EA/BioWare is the final entry in their trilogy of sci-fi action RPGs, putting you in a dire situation: rally the troops to save Earth at all costs. There was a lot of hype surrounding the final act of what has been a vast and highly-customizable story-telling experience, and the reception among many hardcore fans has been less than stellar. Even people that haven't played the game have probably heard about all the nerd rage going on over Mass Effect 3's ending...
If you want to cut through all the crap and find out whether or not the rest of ME3 is worth playing, come check out Will's spoiler-free take on the first blockbuster game release of 2012.
Batman: Arkham City PC Review Batman: Arkham City is the sequel to 2009’s smash-hit action game Batman: Arkham Asylum. As the name suggests, you will be reprising your role as the Caped Crusader and going against an even larger 'prison' filled with Gotham's criminals and villains. A textbook example on how to do a proper sequel, Arkham City takes what worked in the original, excised or improved upon what didn’t, and elevated everything to an even greater scope. The PC version suffered from a few months of delay, but in that time, Rocksteady worked closely to NVIDIA to implement some familiar technologies from the last game, such as PhysX and 3D Vision, along with new DirectX 11 optimizations. But how well was the whole package executed? Read on to find out!
Saints Row: The Third PC Review Saints Row is one of most unique series of games to build upon the open-world action template forged by Grand Theft Auto, and has met with plenty of critical and commercial success since it began on consoles back in 2006. This latest iteration, titled Saints Row: The Third promises the most outlandish fun and freedom of customization of them all, and in a much more PC-friendly package than its predecessor. Does it live up to those expectations and, more importantly, is it worth the price of admission? Find out in Will's latest review!
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim PC Review The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is Bethesda Softworks’ latest offering in their series of epic fantasy RPGs, as well as one of the most highly-anticipated PC titles of 2011. As the Dovahkiin, or Dragonborn, prepare to take the fight to the mythical beasts that have returned to the realm after centuries of slumber, all the while exploring a huge and highly-detailed open world.
The PC version of the game promises enhanced graphical fidelity, standard RPG trimmings such as hotkeys and quick-save, as well as unbridled mod support, something we’ll all be thankful for once they release that SDK. Skyrim has already sold millions of copies and set records for play-time on Steam... Find out why in today's review, which happens to be one of the biggest and most in-depth articles on the subject out there!
L.A. Noire Complete Edition PC Review L.A. Noire, as the name clearly states, is a video game built on the tropes of one of the greatest periods of American cinema: film noir. Developed by the now defunct Australian developer Team Bondi and published by Rockstar Games, this title has been out on consoles for a full six months before finally making its way to the PC. This “Complete Edition” of the game features improved graphics, keyboard/mouse controls, and every bit of previously-released DLC for free. But was it truly worth the wait? Read on and find out!