Posts Tagged ‘Xbox 360’

E3: Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure with Coin-Op TV’s Hailey Bright

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Here we have another one of Coin-Op TV’s installments of some E3 coverage with Hailey Bright (Busy Gamer’s Gamette of the Year 2009). Hailey talks with Toys For Bob’s executive producer Jeff Poffenbarger about Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure. Check it out!

Thanks to Coin-Op TV for sharing this video from E3 with us, you can check out more of their E3 coverage here at www.coin-op.tv.

Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale – the good, the bad, the button mashing

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Since most of us here at BG come from a heavy pen and paper Dungeons and Dragons background this was a title that peaked our interests a few months back. This franchise is well overdue for a revamped series that is accessible in multi and single player scenarios. Atari and Wizards of the Coast seem to know this but can they bring our dice rolling fantasy to our console/PC and do it justice? Lets see…

The Bad
I want to end this on a good note so just let me get the bad stuff out of the way. I’m not going to fill you in on a story background, this is a ‘hack and slash’ game. The story seems sort of back seat to you runnning around looting barrells and killing goblins. We all could expect this from an ‘arcade’ type game. So don’t expect heavy dialogue (just heavy dwarf grunting), and missions like – go kill these guys here, go destroy that mine shaft there, escort this fella over here so he can make you a new shiny sword..etc. Very lack luster, but like I said, I don’t care much about that here, what I wanna know is if it’s fun for me, or worth my time to invest the 1200 microsoft points to satisfy my RPG fix on our occasional sober weekend nights.

Im a stickler on customization of my character, I will spend much too much time making my toon. Like hours if I can’t get it right. Outfitting and gear are a big part of RPGs for me. That was my first big dissappointment here. You get to pick one of four basic D&D Class/Races. Elf rogue, Dwarf cleric, Human warrior, and a Halfling mage (with corn rolls). No hair or face options, just what you see is what you get. They could of given us a few Male/Female options atleast. Big minus for me…

This was suppost to be a transfer of 4th edition rules right? Well at 3rd level I seem to have acquired 145hp (If I remember I should have around 25hp). The weapon damages are all accurate why wouldnt the players HP reflect that also? Maybe too many dots or since it’s not turn based combat they decided to give us a nice cushiony buff. Probably for the better, but still… D&D nerds will notice their numbers not adding up.

Button mashing. The combat is lots of hitting ‘X’ over and over with the slight special attack thrown in there…somewhat repetitive. It does work, and well we all kinda figured we’d be spamming and spamming to see how much we ‘crit’ for, or how much our ‘backstab’ hits at. It would of been nice to include some tatics here and there, and maybe multi-ing it with friends could lead to flanking mobs, or kiting strategies to handle some of the swarms of mobs that are hurled at you. Respawns of critters seems to be fast also, for those who are into blind ‘XP farming’.

The Good
Once you get past the button spamming and getting over the “I wanted to play a female dwarf to see if she could have a beard”, this game has some nice appeal for the BusyGamer. Quick runs with your friends, levelling up and searching for new gear I will never get tired of. The weapon and armor merchants have random items that are level based, they do change between saves it sorta seems, since I was frequently returning to vendors to see what they may have added. And these items reflect well on your character, better swords glow, bows have fire around them that do ‘fire damage’, and armors change your appearance accordingly. This is do like. When I upgrade my weapon, it should make me feel ‘upgraded’. I see that instead of adding character options, they just added a ton of different loot.

Blood and stuff. The fighting animations are very stylized. Nice blood splats and poision clouds from deadly arrows were a nice touch. Fireballs look like fireballs. Ice spells keep you rooted with ice shards coming out of the ground. It’s good to see the power of these smaller DL’d games be used, and they didn’t skimp on the effects.

The level maps are pretty big. I found myself really looking at the UI map of the cave areas to see what spots or treasure chests I may have missed. They are well marked with quest givers, vendors, and objectives so you wont get lost and caught back in a horde of respawned baddies.

Levelling seems adequately rewarding, not too fast, actually seemed a bit slow, but over all will make the game a good 12hrs or so to finish. Which is pretty fat for a DL.

The Overall
Good if you want a quick jump in and loot some mobs and try to get some upgraded gear. Good if you like a game that you could probably have fun with over XBLive with your buddies while drinking a beer at the same time. Good if you like attention to detail with some nice casting and magic item effects, that reflect well on your playing style, and good if you understand this is not a Dragon Age, or even Baulders Gate caliber of game. Bad if you want good story, indepth character customization, combat tactics, turn based strategy, or a game that requires you to think a whole lot more than past your ‘X’ button. It’s a quick ‘hack and slash let’s see how fast we can dps this mofo down’ type of game, and that’s exactly what I think WOTC and Atari set out to do.

Microsoft issues a service alert for Xbox Live

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

(Gamespot) – It appears as if Sony isn’t the only one with a malfunctioning online store for its games console today. Microsoft has issued a service alert for Xbox 360 and PC gamers indicating that the Xbox Live Marketplace, Games for Windows – Live Marketplace, and Indie Games channel are all suffering technical difficulties.

“We are aware of the problem and are working to resolve the issue. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for your patience,” the company said in a message posted to its Xbox Support page. Other aspects of Xbox Live, including online matchmaking and login services, continue to function as intended.

GameSpot’s own attempts to access content have yielded mixed results. An attempt to download content from the Xbox Live Marketplace was successful. However, the same cannot be said for Xbox.com, where attempts to access the Xbox Live Marketplace largely returned page-load errors.

Microsoft had not responded to GameSpot’s request for comment on the matter as of press time. Likewise, the company has yet to indicate the cause of the service interruption, or when gamers can expect Xbox Live connectivity to return to normal working condition.

Hulu Plus gets a date with Xbox Live

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

(Gamespot) – Though the Royal Wedding in the UK will dominate the airwaves on April 29, the day will also mark another significant event in the television realm. Following several days of rumors, Microsoft has confirmed that Hulu Plus will launch on Xbox Live starting tomorrow.

To use Hulu Plus, gamers must be Xbox Live Gold members, at a cost of $60 a year, and also subscribe to Hulu Plus, which costs $10 per month. The service allows users to stream shows and select films from a range of networks, including NBC, Fox, ABC, FX, PBS, Bravo, SyFy, and the Sundance Channel. The free version of Hulu, available on PCs, only lets players watch the most recent episodes of select shows gratis.

Hulu Plus joins such other services as Netflix and ESPN on Xbox Live, along with the Zune video marketplace, which allows for high-definition streaming of films and TV shows. Last November, Hulu Plus became available on the PlayStation Network, where it is accessible at no additional charge from Sony.

Twisted Pixel’s Gunstringer, all strings attached.

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Twisted Pixel Games Discusses Origins of Their New Marionette-Based Title

(Press Release Austin, TX) – “Puppets are just something I’ve always loved,” says Michael Wilford, CEO of Twisted Pixel Games and closeted marionette aficionado. “What makes games great is that they are such a collaborative process. I have over three hundred puppets in my basement, and Bill Muehl, our Game Director, collects Western landscape photography. Oh, and of course we have Dan Teasdale, our Design Lead, whose family was brutally murdered by drug lords when he was a child, and who’s been on a mission of vengeance ever since.”

Originally conceived as an Oregon Trail – style singalong, design decisions throughout the project gradually axed all those elements in favor of the single minded pursuit of revenge by a soulless puppet. Bill recalls, “I tried to bring up compromise with Dan a couple times, but he’d just start fingering that necklace made out of the ears of his slain enemies and stare out into the distance. At that point I’d just mumble something and back away.”

The player controls a marionette named the Gunstringer using Kinect’s unique motion-based controls. The epic tale of the lonely gunman unfolds across
several acts, each performance taking place in a hand-crafted environment. The Gunstringer has several weapons at his disposal, each tool of vengeance
unleashed through the player’s gestures. The game’s lavish production features over thirty characters and countless animations.

Additional information about The Gunstringer can be found at www.thegunstringer.com. The site features information about the game, the release trailer, and our developer’s blog, covering thoughts from the team as their work progresses.

The Gunstringer is expected to be completed in 2011. Dan’s quest to temper the pain in his soul with violence has not yet been given an end date.

Microsoft’s Kinect could assist in your next surgery

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

UW students adapt gaming hardware for robotic surgery

(The Daily) – A group of graduate engineering students have adapted Microsoft’s new Kinect technology for a surprising purpose: surgical robotics.

The method involves using the Kinect (an array of cameras and sensors that allow video-game users to control their Xbox 360s with their bodies) to give surgeons force feedback when using tools to perform robotic surgery.

“For robotics-assisted surgeries, the surgeon has no sense of touch right now,” said Howard Chizeck, UW professor of electrical engineering. “What we’re doing is using that sense of touch to give information to the surgeon, like ‘You don’t want to go here.’”

Currently, surgeons commonly use robotic tools for minimally invasive surgeries. Tubes with remotely controlled surgical instruments on the ends are inserted into the patient in order to minimize scarring. Surgeons control the instruments with input devices that resemble complex joysticks, and use tiny cameras in the tubes to see inside the patient.

The problem is, however, that surgeons have no realistic way to feel what they are doing. If they move a surgical instrument into something solid, the instrument will stop but the joystick will keep moving.

Electrical engineering graduate student Fredrik Ryden solved this problem by writing code that allowed the Kinect to map and react to environments in three dimensions, and send spatial information about that environment back to the user.

This places electronic restrictions on where the tool can be moved; if the actual instrument hits a bone, the joystick that controls it stops moving. If the instrument moves along a bone, the joystick follows the same path. It is even possible to define off-limits areas to protect vital organs.

“We could define basically a force field around, say, a liver,” said Chizeck. “If the surgeon got too close, he would run into that force field and it would protect the object he didn’t want to cut.”

At first it was suggested that presurgery CT scans be used to define these regions. However, Howard’s group came up with the idea of using a “depth camera,” a sensor that detects movement in three dimensions by measuring reflecting infrared radiation to automatically define those regions. At a meeting on a Friday afternoon in December, a team member suggested using the newly released Kinect.

“It’s really good for demonstration because it’s so low-cost, and because it’s really accessible,” Ryden, who designed the system during one weekend, said. “You already have drivers, and you can just go in there and grab the data. It’s really easy to do fast prototyping because Microsoft’s already built everything.”

Before the idea to use a Kinect, a similar system would have cost around $50,000, Chizeck said.

[Full article here at DailyUW.com]

My Kinect freaks me out…

Monday, December 27th, 2010

It's watching you...

I’ll admit it. I fell for the advertising and the hype and asked for a Kinect for Christmas.

I’m a sucker for new technology and even with some of the bad reports I’ve heard in regards to the functionality of the Kinect, I just had to see the tech for myself. I was impressed with some of the things I’ve heard and seen with the Playstation Move but I just can’t get around the fact that the damn thing looks like a cross between a sex toy and a Blow Pop. I’ve tried and I just can’t do it. Every time I hold the Move, I feel dirty. But the Kinect… here’s a device that requires no additional equipment and looks pretty damn cool sitting in front of my TV. At least it looked cool until the first time I powered it on.

The best way I could set up the Kinect without buying any additional equipment was to place it on the entertainment center in front of my TV which puts it a little over two feet off of the ground. The first time I turned it on, the damn thing figured out where my hands were and then began to move.

No, it didn’t jump off of the center and start following me around but after it determined where my face *should* be, the whole damn thing looked me up and down with its three lifeless “eyes”. Once it had established how tall I was, it adjusted to the optimal view where both my hands and face were in frame while I stood approximately four feet from the device.

When I fired up the included game just to see what the Kinect could do, my Xbox advised me that I needed to move further back in order to have enough room to play. The fact that it knew I was standing less than six feet away is impressive in and of itself but that it knew when I was exactly six feet away basically disturbed me.

That’s when it started moving to make sure I was still perfectly in frame and when I moved back a little further, another quiet adjustment. That’s the bit that creeps me out the most. It’s not just following me with those three little eyes, it’s doing so very quietly and I can’t overcome the feeling that this little robotic “face” is moving to make sure it knows where I am at all times lest I sabotage its efforts to gain control of my home.

I watch it now as it watches me, watching it adjust to where I move in the room, it’s quiet little motor tracking me as I try to see if I can fool it into thinking I’m closer or further than I actually am. And no, I haven’t been able to fool it yet. Then there’s the fact that while I tool around with the “Kinect Adventures” game, the damn thing is taking pictures of me while I play… and captioning them with some scarily accurate descriptions of what I’m doing.

As if the watching wasn’t enough, I start playing with the voice activated menus and discover it is creepily listening to what I say, again with some scary accuracy.

I know it’s just a peripheral. I know it has no plans to kill me while I sleep, mostly only because it lacks the legs to get to my bedroom but as I watch the Kinect watching me, it’s very difficult for me not to associate some degree of sinister sentience to the device.

Maybe that whole Blow Pop sex toy thing isn’t such a bad idea…

Gritskrieg – End of Line

Game Review: Fable 3

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Fable 3 lands a Busy Gamer 4

First Glance:
The third installment to the popular Fable series. More choices for a new Hero and a kingdom to rebuild.

The Short Story:
Peter Molyneaux sends us back to Albion once again but this time as the direct offspring of the Hero from Fable 2. The choices you make throughout the game, as in the first two of the series, determine how people react to you and the outcome of the story. You’re putting together a revolution this time around and you have to make some tough choices along the way as you make your alliances and try to get the population of Albion behind you.

The Score:
Fable 3 has taken everything that was done right in the first two games and produced an absolutely fabulous outing into the world of Albion. Combat has been dumbed down (almost too much in some cases) and the story will leave you wanting more. The pros of this game, however, outweigh the cons and deliver on aspects that will leave even the busiest gamer wanting more. While you may want to play more than thirty minutes to an hour at a time, this game can be devoured in short sessions with very little problem and may almost be too short in regards to the storyline. Fable 3 pulls down a Busy Gamer 4.

Body of review:
Those of you who remember what we had to say about Fable 2 (http://www.busygamer.com/blog1/?p=1008) may be surprised that we’ve rated it’s sequel so highly but there’s a reason to all of it that may surprise you if you haven’t had the chance to sample Peter Molyneaux’s latest offering. To begin, there’s the story. Without spoiling it for you, the hero you create is thrown into the fray very quickly with your first moral choice coming shortly after creating your character. Forced to choose between two evils, you quickly begin to understand just how difficult some of the choices you have to make truly are.

That's your brother. Any guesses as to where his moral compass points?

I mentioned after playing the game over Halloween weekend that one could beat the storyline in Fable 3 rather quickly. This is the truth. It’s my estimation that if you were to focus solely on the story and avoided the side quests, you could conceivably wrap up the game in under 4-5 hours. You’re going to miss out on a lot of the game by doing this but if you were really pressed for time and wanted to just breeze through the story, it’s possible. And if you were to do so, you could still continue to do quests and power up your character as the side quests are all available regardless of what point you are in the story.

The combat system has been overhauled in Fable 3 and while I initially disapproved of the changes, they grew on me. To begin, all of your combat abilities as well as your non-combat skills are purchased using Guild Seals. Guild Seals are gained by killing enemies, completing quests, and by making friends (or enemies) with the local villagers. To improve skills, your Hero has to teleport to the Road of Rule, a shadowy realm reflecting your travels and adventures through the game, where chests line the Road that can only be unlocked by spending your hard earned Seals. This allows you to power up abilities without actually having to use them, a problem in the two earlier versions of Fable where one combat skills could quickly outpace your other two skills making it difficult later in the game to improve said skills against the harder opponents.

With the change to the combat skill system comes another addition to the combat. Each skill is accessed by pressing one button on the controller. In other words, pressing the Y button always utilizes your gun (the only ranged weapon category this time out) while X and B activate your melee and magic skills respectively. At first this might seem like an oversimplification but timing your attacks can produce some truly spectacular results. For instance, pressing X just as an enemy attacks results in a slow motion counter attack that typically results in a one shot kill. The game isn’t specific about the timing and the only means to practice the counter attack is to figure it out as you go. The counter attack can be done with all of your weapons and spells and once mastered can significantly increase your potency in combat. Flourishes still play a part in your fights and can be used to negate an opponent’s defense. (more…)

PC ‘Kinect’ open source driver gets okayed.

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Guess you had to have been there...

(Gamestop) – Two weeks ago, an industrious software engineer created open-source drivers which allowed the Kinect camera to be used with a PC. At the time, Microsoft responded with some legal saber-rattling, saying that it would “work closely with law enforcement and product safety groups to keep Kinect tamper-resistant.”

Soon thereafter, Microsoft denied that what the engineer did constituted hacking the Kinect at all. That sentiment was echoed on the Science Friday edition of Talk of the Nation by Alex Kipman, director of incubation for Xbox at Microsoft.

“The first thing to talk about is Kinect was not actually hacked,” explained Kipman. “Hacking would mean that someone got to our algorithms that sit on the side of the Xbox and was able to actually use them, which hasn’t happened. Or it means that you put a device between the sensor and the Xbox for means of cheating, which also has not happened. That’s what we call hacking, and that’s why we have put a ton of work and effort to make sure it doesn’t actually occur.”

He continued, “What has happened is someone wrote an open-source driver for PCs that essentially opens the USB connection, which we didn’t protect by design, and reads the inputs from the sensor. The sensor again, as I talked earlier, has eyes and ears and that’s a whole bunch of, you know, noise that someone needs to take and turn into signal.”

When asked if anyone would “get in trouble” for writing such code or finding other uses for the Kinect camera, Kipman had a direct answer: “Nope. Absolutely not.” Indeed, Microsoft Game Studios’ studio manager Shannon Loftis was effusive in her praise of those who had taken Kinect into their own hands for non-gaming applications. One such application saw an MIT grad student hooking up a Kinect to a Roomba-like iRobot that could follow hand commands and scan rooms.

“I’m very excited to see that people are so inspired that it was less than a week after the Kinect came out before they had started creating and thinking about what they could do,” she said.

Game Review: Halo Reach

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Halo: Reach grabs a Busy Gamer 4

First Glance:
The prequel to the epic Halo Trilogy and what is said to be Bungie’s “final” Halo game.

Short Story:
You play as Noble 6, the newest member of Noble Team. This team of Spartans, physically and genetically altered super soldiers armed with high tech armor and weapons, is the last defense against the Covenant, a combination of different alien races who believe that it is their divine right to destroy the human race. Noble Team’s mission is to repel an invasion of the planet Reach, the last human compound before Earth. You and your team must prevent Reach from falling to the Covenant in order to keep the location of Earth a secret. If you are a fan of the Halo series, you know how this story ends.

The Score:
*Disclaimer!  The score I give Halo: Reach does not reflect how I really feel about this game.*  This was easily the most anticipated game release of this year. With stunning cinematics, wonderful voice acting, and not to mention the incredible and epic story of the campaign, I would be shocked if this game does not receive game of the year. With that said, the campaign can take a while to complete especially if you are trying to get the Legendary Campaign achievements. Then, once you are done with the campaign, you can spend the rest of your day playing the awesome online multi-player. For the sole reason that you can spend countless hours playing online, for the Busy Gamer, Halo: Reach is going to get the score of a 4.

Body of the Review:
This was easily the best game I’ve played this year. Bungie really went all out with what they call their last Halo installment. As I mentioned before, the story was incredible. As you start off as a full team, and slowly, one by one, the team of six eventually comes down to one, you realize that the mission you started will not be a successful one. For those of you familiar with the Halo universe, you know that Reach falls to the Covenant, but Bungie makes sure that everyone knows that Reach did not fall without a fight.

There were a number of exciting additions made to Reach. Along with new weapons, my personal favorite being the DMR which is a single fire version of the Battle Rifle from Halo 2 and Halo 3, there were also the addition of the armor load outs. The load outs were my favorite addition to this game. There are a variety of armor load outs available in Reach, including: Sprint, Armor Lock, Invisibility, Hologram, a Deployable Bubble Shield, and let us not forget, a Jet Pack. I am a huge fan of Red vs. Blue, an online series made using the Halo game engine. Now, in the Red vs. Blue storyline, there is a special division of soldiers called “Freelancers.”  Each Freelancer’s armor is equipped with a special ability. Sound familiar?  Being a Red vs. Blue fan, I was really excited to see something like this be apart of the game. My favorite load out would have to be the Sprint load out. It’s the simplest one of the bunch, but it works best for me in Matchmaking.

"Get some, little creepy dino looking thing!"

Halo: Combat Evolved was such a breakthrough game because it was the first game to initialize the melee attack in a First Person Shooter. Halo 2 and 3 took it one step further with instant kills when you melee an opponent from behind. Now, when you do this in a multiplayer match, you would get a badge for an assassination. Halo: Reach took the assassination one step further by actually giving you the visual satisfaction of seeing your character brutally assassinate your opponent. This usually involves the breaking of the neck or a brutal stabbing of the head or chest of your opponent. I love those!
Along with the additions of the gameplay, your ability to customize your Spartan are incredible. There are so many different armor types this time around that the possibilities are endless for how your Spartan looks.

The multiplayer has gone through a huge revamp as well. You can now change your settings to where if you like to play with people who like to talk while playing, or players who are there to have fun, you can set it to where those will be the only players you will be matched with. There are also some new multiplayer games with Reach. These include Head Hunters, Elite Slayer, Invasion, and now SWAT and Living Dead have their own multiplayer playlist. Personally, I am not a fan of any of these new games except for SWAT, but that’s been in the mix since Halo 3. Elite Slayer is probably my least favorite of the new multiplayer games. It was not very fun to play.

Right now, Reach doesn’t have too many maps to choose from and the majority of them are all remakes of maps from previous Halo games, my favorite currently being Countdown.

"Your tactics are transparent!"

One of the best changes would be the changes made in the Forge. Not only did Bungie manage to change things by giving the players the ability to make their own movies using Theater mode and giving players the ability to create their own maps as well in Halo 3. Now in Reach, players have endless possibilities in the Forge. You can now mesh objects together and rotate objects to the angle you desire. And to build your creations, Bungie has given us Forge World. Forge World is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It’s one huge map that holds at least six different maps inside of it. Most notably, this map has brought back possibly Halo’s most famous map: Blood Gulch. Once again, as a Red vs. Blue fan, I was excited to see Blood Gulch again as it was where the first five seasons of the show took place.

Final Thoughts:
Reach is as close to the perfect FPS as you can get. It has the story, the look, and the gameplay that many will love. I only hope that this will not be Bungie’s last hurrah in the Halo Universe.

Until next time Busy Gamers, Happy gaming!

M-Dawg out.










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