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Perfect Dark Zero MapsMicrosoft Game Studios and Rare today announced that they will be expanding the already extensive and exciting multiplayer experience of “Perfect Dark Zero” by adding four new battleground maps available now for download on Xbox Live Marketplace.

The four new maps, Plaza, Rooftops, Trench, and GasPlant will provide gamers with the ability to further their mission of becoming the Perfect Agent. All maps will be fully functional with all existing scenarios. Gamers can purchase these exciting new maps for 500 Microsoft Points from Xbox Live Marketplace beginning today.


Live ANywhereQUALCOMM announced June 1st that it will be supporting the Live Anywhere movement through use of it’s BREW software.  If you are using a Verizon Wireless cell phone and playing games, you are using BREW.  The announcement was made at the annual BREW developer’s conference in San Diego, and is good news for Microsoft.  Previous to this announcement Live Anywhere was a great theory but lacked visible backers in the wireless industry.  These showings of support by QUALCOMM and by proxy Verizon Wireless has lent credibility to the idea that I can purchase a game on the Xbox Live Arcade and gain the ability to play the game on your phone or interact on the go with your friends on Live.  Yet to be laid out is what consumers will have to pay Verizon for this access since Verizon is unlikely to just hand out access to their distribution service and lose revenue from games purchased on Live.  On the upside, combined with the free XBL gold weekends that Verizon has given out, the company may be showing a commitment to the gaming community and thus attracting more gamers to it’s multitude of services.

Read More | IGN

Mehrunes Razor

Bethesda recently announced a new mod for Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, “Mehrunes’ Razor.” In addition to adding the magical item for which the downloadable content is named, there will be a new dungeon and several new items for gamers to discover. Mehrunes’ Razor could be found in the previous game, Morrowind, through an included quest, but the description Bethesda gives here hints that the incarnation in Oblivion may be a bit more powerful. This sounds to be one of the more involved downloadable content expansions, and the price reflects it; for PC users the mod will cost $2.99, and no pricing is currently available for Xbox 360 owners, but expect it to cost between 200 and 250 Marketplace points. According to the Oblivion download site, the new content features:

  • A fully-featured quest takes you deep into the fringes of the Niben.
  • Earn the fearsome Mehrunes Razor, with the ability to kill foes instantly.
  • 17 new magic items to discover!
  • Conquer the largest dungeon in all Cyrodiil.
  • Thwart a plot to overthrow Imperial rule in Tamriel.
  • 12 new books, notes, and journals to help you unravel the mystery.
  • Hidden treasures await!

Read More | Obliviondownloads.com

Latest Gear Live Videos

Thieves Den

PC and Xbox 360 Oblivion owners can download the Thieves Den module now, for $1.89 or 150 Marketplace Points respectively. According to Bethesda’s site, the new content features:

  • A fully detailed environment for your character to own and explore
  • Free sleeping space: never pay for an inn again!
  • Five upgrades for your lair
  • Hire vendors designed especially for thieves, rogues, and assassins
  • As you upgrade your lair new pirates will join your crew and provide you with income
  • Over 45 new items
  • 15 new spells

The content does seem to offer a great deal more than previous offerings, and so far has gotten a fair amount of praise in the Oblivion forums. Apparently the mod is inspired by the Goonies, so maybe gamers will be teaming up with Chunk and Sloth to take on Ma Fratelli and her boys.

Read More | OblivionDownloads

The Xbox Media Briefing started with an amazing 3D array of the Gamertags of everyone that is here in the audience. It was absolutely stunning the way that they did this.

At the beginning of the briefing, we got a Gear of War trailer, followed by a demonstration of one of the levels. We must say - this game is drop-dead gorgeous.

Peter Moore hits the stage.

Xbox 360 has sold 5 million units faster than any console in history, as well as the iPod. Xbox Live will hit 6 million members within 12 months. As of last week, there is a 57% attach rate to Xbox Live.

We are given a look at upcoming Xbox Live Arcade games, including:

Dig Dug
Ms. Pac Man
Track and Field
Ultimate MK 3
Street Fighter II
Paper Boy

This is gonna be good stuff. All games will be updated in high definition, online multiplayer, and obviously achievements. Arcade is also creating a space for indie developers to get their new ideas across to today’s gamers.

Just announced: Lumines is hitting the Xbox 360 as an Arcade title, “Lumines Live.” The game will have licensed music from the likes of Madonna and others. Totally awesome.

We are watching a trailer of upcoming Xbox 360 titles. I am telling you, there is no difference as of now between these graphics and those of the PS3. Believe that. Smackdown vs. RAW 2007, Ninety-Nine Nights, and Gears of War look fabulous.

By holiday 2006, there will be more than 160 games available for the Xbox 360. When football season starts, Xbox 360 will be the only place to hit up Madden 2007 in next-gen format.

There is still development dedicated to the original Xbox.

Newly Announced: We are watching a trailer for what looks to be a sequel to Fable. In fact, it is! Fable 2 has just been announced, and this game looks incredible. Of course, this is a CG trailer…but the storyline looks tight.

Forza Motorsport 2: Another racing game, but these cars are fully customizable…from the engine, to the wheels, to the paint. Over 300 cars, racing up to 11 people on Xbox Live, and it will have a wireless steering wheel controller.

Other accessories include a wireless headset, and the Xbox Live Vision Camera that we leaked a few weeks ago. All three accessories will be available in Fall 2006.

Focusing on Japan, games like Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey, and DOA Xtreme Volleyball 2 are hopefully going to make the Japanese appreciate the Xbox 360. Um, no they won’t.

Now viewing a trailer for Splinter Cell: Double Agent. I like the new gameplay elements, and the graphics are (again) top-notch. Even the gameplay footage. Launching in September.

Moving on to Viva Pinata. This is like a mix between Cubivore, The Sims, and a few other “do it yourself” games. In order to mate, there is a mating dance. Pretty creative. Launching in Holiday 2006.

Now we are moving on to entertainment, starting with Xbox Live Marketplace. There are over 18 million downloads since the launch, and as of tonight, there are over 1000 pieces of content. Every Xbox 360 developer has a piece of content on the Marketplace.

Xbox Live Marketplace changes the way people buy games. When Fight Night was demoed, pre-orders increased by 5x. Marketplace also provies true episodic content and opens a world of true digital entertainment. Tonight, you can download high definition show content, Gears of War Race to E3. It starts on Xbox Live, and ends next week with an MTV special.

Xbox 360 HD DVD player will be available this holiday. No price yet? What’s the deal?

I think it’s time for Halo 3…Moore is teasing us, and I think he has another tatoo. “Some guys do rubber ducks. Some guys do tatoos.” I was wrong, it’s time for Grand Theft Auto IV, which hits Xbox 360 on October 16th, 2006. He said nothing about exclusivity, but it is available on the platform on day one. Rockstar will also be providing exclusive episodic content on Xbox Live.

Moving on to Vista. The most game-friendly OS in history. Games for Windows is the new unified brand. Now showing trailer for PC game Crysis. Gameplay looked great, and it was running on Windows XP. We now change it up and take a look at DirectX 10 gaming on Windows Vista…and everyone is absolutely floored. Flight Simulator X and Crysis look photorealistic. One word here, folks: Wow. Vista is built to run games, and will be the single biggest launch in Microsoft’s history.

On to Oblivion, it sold 1.7 million copies in 3 weeks. Joint release for Xbox 360 and PC. Today they are announcing two more joint release games that will be released on both platforms, offering gamers a choice. The first is Shadowrun, which looks to provide a high-level depth of gaming. Launches with Vista in January. The other game is called Alan Wake, and it looks like a high-level survival-horror/thriller. A psychological action thriller.

Bill Gates hits the stage, and talks about Xbox 360’s global presence. By the end of June, between 5-5.5 million consoles will have been shipped.

Before others enter the marketplace, Xbox 360 will have a 10 million unit head start.

Just announced: Live Anywhere. Built-in to Vista, but will also be on cell phones, Xbox 360, etc. Have your Live account on all your devices, giving you one Gamertag that you can use across multiple platforms. Sounds like you can play games on Windows Mobile, and use your Gamertag and possibly even earn achievements. “Start a game on Xbox, continue it on the phone. Maybe schedule your Xbox to download something from your phone while you are away.” Moving from Live, to Live Anywhere.

We are given a demo of how this all might work. This stuff is going to be a big deal - we will have a video up later this evening. For now, know that Xbox Live’s experience will be fully realized on mobile phones, Windows Vista, and the Xbox 360.

I think it’s now Halo time. The crowd is going nuts. Halo 3 looks insane. The storyline will rock…but everyone wants to see multiplayer. It’s coming in 2007.

Xbox LiveMicrosoft’s free Xbox Live Gold week for E3 has started. From Monday, May 8, 12:01AM PST through Sunday, May 14, at 11:59PM PST, all Xbox Live Silver members will be able to play online and make use of the Xbox Live Gold features. In addition, Microsoft will be dropping some exclusive E3 content in the form of game trailers and demos, and will be hosting a number of giveaways and contests. Of course, since the last dashboard update didn’t include the ability to download files in the background, gamers trying to access the new content won’t be able to game at the same time. But still, there should be a lot of great insider content available on Xbox Live that gamers wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere.

Read More | Xbox.com

Wizard Tower

Bethesda today made available the latest Elder Scrolls: Oblivion downloadable content, the Wizard’s Tower. Like previous releases, the content is available for the PC for $1.89, and for the Xbox 360 for 200 Live Marketplace points. Updates include:

  • A fully detailed tower for you to explore
  • A breathtaking view of Cyrodiil from the highest point in the land
  • Simple furnishings including a bed for leveling up
  • An indoor botanical garden with over 130 specimens… including Oblivion-native herbs!
  • Summon Atronach Familiars that obey your commands
  • Instant teleports to every Mages Guild in Cyrodiil
  • New Spell and Recharge vendor in the Imperial City
  • Fully upgrade the furnishings in your lair to suit your needs
  • Upgrade to a fully functional Enchanting and Spellmaking station with no need to join Mages Guild
  • Upgrade to a laboratory that buffs your Alchemy skill

No real quest related additions seem to be present for the new content, so there might be further disappointment with this add-on. Still, Bethesda appears to be committed to regularly releasing new items and areas for the game, extending its play life, little by little.

Read More | Obliviondownloads.com

OblivionMajor Nelson recently posted that the Orrery quest for Elder Scrolls: Oblivion is now available on Xbox Live for a low 150 points. The backlash has already started over in the official Oblivion forums for the game; people that have downloaded the additional quest complain that this add-on is less valuable than the previous horse armor premium content. Gamers impatient for the gameplay patch from Bethesda are also questioning the priorities of the developers.

Read More | MajorNelson.com
Read More | Official Oblivion Forums

Battlefield MCTeamXbox.com has a video interview with Ed Thomas, lead technical artist on Battlefield 2: Modern Combat detailing the various upgrades that have been made to the Xbox 360 release. The visual comparisons in the video are very striking in the amount of changes that have been made. Some of the highlighted Xbox 360 changes listed in the video are:

  • 10x the polygon count from the Xbox version
  • 1.5 million polygons per scene
  • 15-20x the texture memory used
  • A more advanced lighting and shadow model
  • More dynamic lighting used, impacting gameplay (muzzle flashes will more accurately give away positions)
  • Overhaul of damage and effects engines
  • More AI units in game

Overall, do these changes make the Xbox 360 version worth $20 more than the Xbox version? Of course, it is hard to tell until the game is released, but the video changes and Ed Thomas’ comments certainly make it seem likely. The demo is also currently available via Xbox Live.

Read More | TeamXbox.com

Burnout Picture Pack

Burnout Picture Pack

For the Burnout uber-fans out there, there are two new Burnout Picture Packs (pictured above) available for download on the Xbox Live Marketplace. Quick question though - is anyone out there actually spending their Microsoft Points on anything other than Live Arcade games? Are the picture packs actually worth the cost to some folks? Let us know.

Read More | Major Nelson