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This Week on Xbox Live Arcade: Marathon: Durandal And Spyglass Board Games

Marathon Durandal Xbox Live Arcade

Finally, Bungie’s Marathon. The game that was arguably better than Doom back in the day, but got little no attention because it was released only on Macs. (That’s what they get.) Marathon: Durandal, however, is actually the sequel to the original Marathon which saw a release on both Windows and Mac. The XBLA port was developed by Freeverse, and includes a variety of features that will make it worth its 800 Microsoft Point price tag – HD graphics, Xbox Live play, and co-op.

Spyglass Board Games has been heavily anticipated by many gamers, as for 400 Microsoft Points you get a sweet package of Chess, Checkers, Mancala and Reversi, all with Xbox Live Vision Camera support.

Both games will be available this Wednesday on Xbox Live Arcade.


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No Online Co-Op For Halo 3, Yet

Halo 3

The speculation is true – the latest issue of EGM confirms that Halo 3’s co-op (which will exist offline, with player two playing as the Arbiter) is not currently online. Bungie is working to get the feature implemented, but currently it isn’t happening. Considering they have a very limited amount of time left to work on the game, it seems highly unlikely that online co-op will make it into the retail version of the game. Of course, we could always get it through a patch or downloadable content down the road – but so help me if it costs even a penny.

“We’re not dumb,” says Bungie’s Frank O’Conner. “We know that people want it and we’re trying to make it happen. I think the biggest problem for us for online co-op is that we have a situation where you can be in a Warthog with five troops, almost a mile away from the other player. That’s a significant challenge. And there’s lots of design things you could do to prevent that from happening, but they would make it not feel like Halo anymore. If we can make it happen in a way that works well, we will - and if it works badly, we won’t.”

A smattering of other things are revealed in the EGM story, as well, including new weapons and gear: the Flare (flashbang), the Mauler (dual-wieldable Brute shotgun),the Gravity Hammer (according to CVG it sends vehicles flying), and the Regenerator (opposite of the power drainer). New vehicles include the Prowler, Hornet, and Elephant. They don’t sound quite as cool as Ghosts, Banshees and Warthogs, but hopefully they play well. Additionally, a remake of the popular Halo 2 map Lockout was revealed, now known as Guardian.

Read More | CVG

E3 2007: Halo Wars First Gameplay Footage

Depending on what you’re expecting from Halo Wars, you’re either going to be very happy or very disappointed. From all indications, Halo Wars looks like it’s going to be a straight-up RTS with a Halo theme. If you were hoping for something more innovative (that’s not to say the game won’t be innovative, but from this 30 second clip nothing really jumped out), you’re going to be upset with what Ensemble Studios has to show.


E3 2007: Golden Axe, Sonic The Hedgehog On Live, Marathon 2 And More On The Way

Sonic the HedgehogAnnounced during Microsoft’s press conference not long ago, Genesis classics Sonic The Hedgehog and Golden Axe are now available for Live Arcade. Sweetening the surprise is the pricing; they’ll only cost you five bucks (400 Microsoft Points) each, exactly three dollars less than their $8 Wii Virtual Console counterparts. Sega’s giving 360 owners a discount.

Also announced via the same Live Arcade footage reel was Marathon: Durandal. Development is being outsourced to Freeverse, a smaller Mac-focused outfit who’ve decided to remove the “2” in the games title. This is no mere re-branding: what was shown reveals a major visual overhaul. All of the games sprites and textures have been re-painted, resulting in a more polished version of what staunch Mac addicts got down on twelve years ago. No price or release details, but it’ll have a good home when it arrives: a Bungie classic reborn should sit well with the audience.


E3 2007: Microsoft’s Press Conference Recap And Impressions

E3 Microsoft Bringing It Home

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend E3 this year – instead, I’m on vacation in Cape Cod, using awful hotel Wi-Fi to watch streamed press conferences. Not the most glamorous way to take it all in, but exciting announcements, great games and new details are welcome no matter how you hear about them.

Here’s my personal transcription (in very brief form) of all the announcements and showings, along with some reflection on what Microsoft had to show.


Halo 3 Campaign Screen Emerges; Bound To Be Second Most Viewed Image On Internet Behind Paris Hilton

Halo 3 Master Chief campaign screenshot

Luke Smith has posted a drool-worthy Halo 3 screenshot over on Bungie.net, saying only that it is in-game and from the game’s campaign. That’s it. We know nothing more, but at least we can stare to our hearts’ content. Come on, September 25!

Read More | Bungie.net

RIP: Halo 3 Beta. It’s All Over

Halo 3 logo

Oh, Halo 3 beta, how I will miss you. We had such good times together. Whether it was VIP on Snowbound, Territories on Valhalla or 1 Flag CTF on High Ground, you never failed to entertain me. The countless kills with the Spartan Laser were never any less satisfying than my very first one. Headshots, ohhh the headshots; the way you would fling the recipient’s body backwards. The satisfying noise spike grenades would make when sticking to someone. Intense firefights, bubble shields, endless bouts of profanity-filled gaming – you were only a beta, a simple beta, yet few things could measure up to the experience you served up each and every time I played a game.

In fact, you mean so much to me, I’ve written you a Haiku. I hope it has the correct number of syllables, because I’m far too depressed to do the appropriate research.

Oh Halo 3 beta
Man cannons are so so silly
Please don’t change their sweet names

RIP Halo 3 beta. September 25 cannot possibly come soon enough.


Halo 3 Limited Edition Case Revealed

Halo 3 limited edition

The so called “Limited” Edition (limited to the number of them they can sell, no doubt) of Halo 3 has had its case unveiled, and I’ve gotta say – it looks pretty sweet. Sweet to the point where I considered changing my plans to purchase the Legendary Edition. For only $70 – $10 more than the standard edition, and $60 less than the Legendary Edition – you’ll receive a copy of the game, a bonus disc with all sorts of goodies, and a Halo fiction and art book. There was an erroneous picture floating around the internet that showed a second game disc, but this was proven to be a mistake on Microsoft’s end. Bungie.net’s Frankie explains the error:

The Collector’s Edition picture erroneously shows that it ships with a Bonus Content disc and a Game Two disc. Incorrect. It’s a mistake at MS’ end and we’re updating retailers with the correct image. The “Game Disc 2” shown in the art actually refers to an interactive Bonus Content disc. It’s an Xbox “executable” (think of it like a menu-driven disc, similar to the Official Xbox Magazine cover disc) and internally, has always been referred to as “Game Disc 2” because it has to go through the same certification process as Halo 3 itself. That was somehow communicated to MS retail marketing verbatim. Hence the error. No big deal.

It actually is a pretty complicated situation, so check after the break for the full explanation and list of contents for each Halo 3 SKU.

Read More | Bungie.net

Chatlog: The Halo 3 Beta: Two Weeks Later

Halo 3 teaser Master Chief

The Beta has been available to the public for nearly two weeks, and with well over a hundred games between the two of them, editors Chris Pereira and Kyle Ulrich have a discussion about the experience thus far - what they like, what they don’t, what needs to be changed, and more.

Kyle: First off, the graphics. While the beta looks good, it’s absolutely clear that what is there is merely a foundation for what the finished product will become. A lot of people have been quick to criticize the game for looking too similar to Halo 2, without taking into consideration that the majority of the assets that we’re seeing in this beta - the levels, weapons, and character models - have been finished for months, as early as last October. Particle effects are nonexistent - grenades and muzzle fire lack flourish. From my perspective, we’re going to be looking at almost an entirely different game come September. I’d imagine that there are layers and layers of polish that have yet to be implemented. Believe.

Chris: You’re right. is the type of developer that waits until the last moment to slap on that extra layer of gloss that makes everything oh-so-pretty. And unlike many games, gimmicky bloom effects aren’t what make Halo look good. And after all, this beta isn’t a tech demo; don’t expect it to wow you with its graphics.

Kyle: The gameplay is an entirely different story, though. Even in this early, unfinished stage, the balance is remarkable. Nothing feels particularly unusable and the power weapons are exactly what they should be: hard to use, one-hit skill kills. Everything from the recoil of the sniper rifle to the shortening of the Shotgun’s ammo chamber make major strides at leveling the playing field. The even smattering of spray and prays and one-shots coalesce and riff off each other beautifully. For my money, an unfinished product has never played so marvelously. Also, the tweaking of the objective game types shakes things up well. Territories is simply awesome.


Halo 3 Beta To See Maintenance And Playlist Update

Halo 3 Master Chief

This week will showcase the first substantial change to Halo 3’s matchmaking playlist. Team Training is going bye-bye in order to be replaced by Big Team Training – 6v6 games of the objective and slayer variety on High Ground and Valhalla. Luke Smith also stated on Bungie.net, “… we’ve made some slight tweaks to the Team Skirmish playlist that should add greater variety in the opponents you’ll face.” If only that meant no slayer games in the skirmish playlist. Slayer is not an objective game! Go play Team Slayer if that’s what tickles your fancy.

In unrelated news, later today (May 23), some sort of proverbial flip will be temporarily switched between the hours of 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. PST. It supposedly should have no impact, but Frankie warns of what may potentially happen:

Should your game encounter a rare crash, your Xbox 360 will give you an alert screen, explaining that it’s uploading data to Bungie servers. We actually need this data, and we need your cooperation too. Although you probably won’t see that screen, if you do, let it finish uploading the data. It may take some time – upwards of 10-20 seconds and perhaps longer. So we beg your patience. When the process has completed correctly this is the message you’ll see, “File upload complete. Visit http://www.bungie.net/forums/halo3beta for more information (safe to reboot).”

Read More | Bungie.net

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