Microsoft announced that starting at midnight GMT on Wednesday, they’ll be reducing prices for a select number of Xbox Live Arcade titles for one week, ending at 11:59 Tuesday October 2nd. This is similar to the Labor Day sale they ran earlier this month where they dropped the prices on Gauntlet, Zuma and Dig Dug.
The titles featured this time around are Bankshot Billiards 2, Hardwood Spades and Frogger.
The price reductions are less dramatic here, the earlier labor day sale halved the prices of the games while these are marked down less severely: Bankshot Billiards 2 normally goes for 1200 ($15.00) Microsoft Points but has been reduced to 900 ($11.25); Hardwood Spades and Frogger are both usually priced at 400 Microsoft Points ($5.00) but have been dropped to 300 ($3.75). Still, if you were considering any of these games as possible purchases, now might be the time to jump on them. Perhaps combined with the Best Buy/Halo 3 Live promotion you can have yourself a few days of super-cheap online gaming.
Read More | Gamerscore Blog
THQ announced that sequel to the GTA-style next gen game Saints Row is in the works. Saints Row was an Xbox 360 exclusive that followed the criminal underworld/open world model of Rockstar‘s key franchise pretty closely but included a character generator and several minor improvements that made it a hit with early 360 adopters.
Saints Row 2 takes place years after the original in the same city (Stillwater), but things have changed with the passage of time. As described in the press release, “Saints Row 2 has a much darker and more sinister story that leads your character down a path of betrayal, revenge and redemption against the city that has left him for dead.”
Unlike the original, which was a 360 exclusive, Saints Row 2 will be released on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 sometime in 2008.
Robert “402” Bowling from Infinity Ward has posted about some upcoming changes to the Call of Duty 4 beta on his blog. The most significant announcement is the closing of the beta on September 30th, but he also revealed that two days prior the level cap, which has been at 16 for a couple of weeks after being lifted from the initial cap of 11, will go up to 25. That gives beta testers only two days to jump from 16 to 25 before the beta closes down in anticipation of the game’s release November 5th.
Part of the post hinted that CoD4 had gone gold, but Bowling refused to come right out and say it, saving the announcement for more official channels. He did say that Infinity Ward had received congratulations from the Sony of America and the Xbox 360 certification team, which leaves little room for doubt that the game is in the final stages before shipping.
The beta has been an excellent marketing tool for Infinity Ward since the strength of the game is quite evident from the limited, multiplayer-only test version. Even though the game is likely gold, the beta continues for developers to continue gathering data for the inevitable title upgrades and expansion packs. The raising of the level cap so close to the end of the beta is, speculatively, due to the launch of a certain multiplayer juggernaut a few days prior.
Read More | Fourzerotwo's Blog
We know that plenty of our readers have been waiting anxiously for Halo 3 to drop, and Microsoft just threw us all a bone today with the Xbox 360 Halo 3 Special Edition console. And yes, that is the entire name of the unit. While it won’t satiate your appetite for Halo 3 gaming goodness (that happens in a little over a week,) it really is a sweet looking piece of machinery. We got our hands on one today, and naturally, took a bunch of unboxing images for your viewing pleasure - 41 in total. We give you a look at everything that comes in the box in our Halo 3 Xbox 360 unboxing gallery, but for a quick glance, this is what you get for $399 USD:
- Halo 3 Special Edition Console
- Halo 3 Special Edition Wireless Controller
- Halo 3 Special Edition 20GB Hard Drive
- Halo 3 Special Edition Wired Headset
- Halo 3 Special Edition Gamer Pics and Theme (Exclusive download via Xbox LIVE)
- Component HD AV Cable
- Ethernet Cable
- HDMI Port
- Play & Charge Kit
- Xbox LIVE Silver Membership
- One-month Xbox LIVE Gold Membership
Don’t forget to hit the gallery for all the images.
Read More | Xbox 360 Halo 3 Special Edition Unboxing Gallery
In the midst of all the hype about the Halo 3 launch, one thing that is often overlooked is that not everyone who has a 360 is necessarily equipped to play the game in its entirety. Whether you’re staunchly against paying for an online service like Xbox Live or you just can’t afford it, for a few days at least it won’t matter.
Best Buy is sponsoring a three-day free-for-all granting all Xbox 360 users access to the Gold Service starting on September 25th and ending on the 27th. That means that Silver members get to experience Halo’s online multiplayer without charge for at least a handful of days after they pick up their copy of the game. Even if you’re not into the whole Halo thing, that doesn’t exclude you from taking advantage: Best Buy’s “the first hit is free” style promotion extends to all parts of the service so those without full access to Live could use the time to play some Gears of War online, check out the Call of Duty 4 beta (if it’s still up and running) or just use the time to play some free Uno.
Read More | Bungie.net
Koji Igarashi, creator of the popular Castlevania franchise, is featured in an interview with Game Informer where he talks about what’s next for the series.
[Next,] I will be working on a DS version, but I am thinking of moving to the home consoles for the future. I will continue to use 2D for the DS version, but I’m still trying to figure out which console to do the home console versions. I think the Xbox 360 would be the best platform for the U.S. market.
Another DS Castlevania wasn’t really a bold prediction, but focusing on the 360 is a little unexpected. Igarashi goes on to clarify, “The U.S. market is the biggest market for the Castlevania series, so I will give the first priority to the U.S. market. The platform will be the Xbox 360, since the PS3 isn’t doing well everywhere in the world.” He does later suggest that he thinks Metal Gear Solid 4 could easily increase the PS3 base in the US which would make it more attractive as a target for a Castlevania game.
As for the Wii, which represents an even larger market than 360, Igarashi says he hasn’t quite figured out how to make the gesture controls work with the game saying that the motion for cracking a whip might be too hard on users but some kind of abstraction would be “not so good.” “I will have to think about a way to accomplish this,” he concludes.
Read More | Game Informer
Microsoft has known how important Halo 3 will be to their success this generation since before they even announced the Xbox 360. Halo 2 sold $125 million on the first day, but then the original Xbox was just struggling for recognition in the wake of the PS2 juggernaut. Now the 360 holds a tenuous lead in installed base and isn’t selling the way Microsoft may have hoped. If it’s possible Halo 3 may have become even more important to Microsoft’s strategy than they originally hoped. Fortunately, they’ve been planning ahead.
In an article released today on Brand Week, the calculated ten-month marketing efforts behind Bungie‘s trilogy finale is dissected starting from the Starry Nights TV spot launched last November through the public beta this spring/early summer. They talk about the Project Iris viral campaign and the efforts they’ve gone to secure strategic branding partners. This has included the Mountain Dew Game Fuel limited edition soft drink that comes plastered with Halo 3 imagery plus a total of $5 million from Pontiac to help push the launch of the game on September 25.
And they aren’t done yet. Microsoft will begin the full blitz with the new Believe campaign that will lead up to the launch taking place at midnight in over 10,000 stores to give Halo fans a chance to grab the game as soon as possible. It’s an interesting read about the science behind building a monster.
The Official Xbox Magazine’s podcast has an interview this week with Harmonix co-founder and president Alex Rigopulos about their upcoming game Rock Band. In the interview he talks about the game bundles, although light on concrete details he does confirm a band-in-a-box bundle that will include a guitar, drum kit and microphone. However, he goes on to say that the PlayStation 3 version will include a wireless guitar controller while the Xbox 360 version will have to include a wired guitar because Microsoft‘s wireless technology is too expensive to make the bundle reasonably priced. Since the 360 also has only two USB ports, the 360 Rock Band bundle will also be packed with a USB hub.
Rigopulos goes on to discuss the game’s career modes a little, saying there will be both solo career mode that progresses in a linear fashion similar to what Guitar Hero players are used to, but they are also including a less linear band career mode. In this mode you traverse to various venues trying to build up your fan base and in some cases return to previously played locations to maintain your fame there. Also it’s worth noting that the solo career mode will not include a bass career track so your options are vocals, guitar and drums in solo career mode. But Rigopulos did reveal that the finale songs for each career path (and therefore likely the difficulty distinctions throughout) will be different for each instrument, and he even said that at this point the drum finale will be The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”
Read More | KOXM Podcast
Proving Ground is supposed to challenge Skate with enhanced customization features, especially centered around making videos, and plenty of refinements to the online experience like seamless solo to multiplayer transitions. They’re also throwing in a nail-the-grab feature to compliment the popular nail-the-trick mode from last year’s Project 8 entry and multiple career paths. There is no firm release date set, but the game is expected to hit store shelves for most current platforms sometime in October.
Read More | Team Xbox
Timed to sync with the start of PAX and Leipzig, Sierra will release a rather full-featured demo of their upcoming real-time “action” strategy game World in Conflict on Friday containing demos of both the single-player mode via a tutorial, plus one mission as well as multiplayer supporting 16 players. There will be one multiplayer map available to all demo-downloaders that can also be played in solo skirmish mode and a second map playable only by those who pre-order the game. World in Conflict is designed to incorporate first-person shooter elements like speed into the RTS genre and by design requires no resource management. The game is due out September 18th.
In other demo-related news, the PC version of the BioShock demo that Xbox Live users have been enjoying since last week is out in time for the full retail release of the game. Any PC users on the fence about this game can check out the first half hour or so of the game and most likely put it down only long enough to run to the store and buy the full copy.
Read More | 1Up
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