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 411mania » Games » Columns

The Full Circle: 360 News Report 09.25.09
Posted by Dan Owen on 09.25.2009

Welcome back to 411mania.com's #1 Xbox 360 Friday news column, The Full Circle. I'm beginning to question my naming this column #1 as last week not one of you wrote in. I can only assume that that means that I've got no readers, but that hasn't stopped me before! Hopefully this week I can get a couple thirteen fourteen comments (that's an inside joke that only Minnesota sports talk radio listeners are going to get), otherwise I'm going to have to knock this thing down to the #2 Xbox 360 Friday news column. Also, no Target Topic this week as I'm under a huge time crunch to try to get things done before a weekend road trip down to Kansas City to watch the Minnesota Twins sweep the Royals! I won't bore you with any more of the details of what has been a relatively boring week (save for several drunken antics), so on to the news.


Microsoft Making A Play To Purchase EA?

There are some rumors coming out from TGS saying that Microsoft could be interested in buying up developer Electronic Arts. While this is only a rumor at this point and Reuters has already declared the rumors dead, there still hasn't been a definitive killing of the news. It is estimated that such a move would give Microsoft a 35% market share in hardware sales and roughly 20% of the game publishing market share. Both companies stock's have seen an uptick in their price as a result of the news.

Whooooaa baby. This could be huge news in the gaming industry if true. It would make Microsoft the biggest player in the industry without a doubt, and it could have huge implications on the console wars. Can you imagine Madden being exclusive to the 360? Yeah, neither can I, since that might be enough to kill Microsoft. Yes, Microsoft, not Sony. Were they to ever try something like making the only NFL video game exclusive to their own company's console, the antitrust lawsuits would be flying. Even then, the resources that EA would give to Microsoft would be massive and would, at the least, give them a huge boost in developing first party games. Stay tuned next week for an update on this situation.

Microsoft Says Major Game Developers Are Getting Involved With Natal

Microsoft announced at TGS that their Natal is getting a lot of interest from developers and that 12 major third-party developers are working with the Natal technology. Those developers included Bethesda, Activision Blizzard, Capcom, Disney, EA, Square Enix, and Ubisoft among others. "The support of these creative partners testifies to the excitement that 'Project Natal' is generating among the most innovative minds in the industry," commented Don Mattrick, senior vice president for Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business.

It should be no secret that I am not a fan of Natal. The list of developers here is pretty impressive, but that doesn't change much for me. I play video games to relax, and I'm only willing to do so much physical activity to play my games. I worry that there is no way to make games as "hardcore" as we like them to be AND integrate Natal into them. There's no doubt that the Wii has a big lack of games that appeal to the traditional gamers. Not too many games like first person shooters. I guess I will have to wait and see how this turns out, but count me as someone who is more than a bit skeptical about this whole Natal thing for the time being.

Apparently Hideki Kojima, the famed creator of the Metal Gear Solid series, disagrees with my feelings on Natal. He apparently "nearly fainted" when he saw Natal, saying that "we are going to see the same sort of revolution of going from 2D games to 3D games with the move to Natal." He also said that he expects that there will be some kind of transitional stage where some gamers resist the idea of playing games with Natal, but he really seemed to fully believe that Natal is for real.

For all of the negative things I've had to say about Natal, I feel like every article I read has developers talking about how excited they are about Natal. Some of that is just what they "have" to say for one reason or the other, but some of the comments Kojima made sounded pretty legitimate. Plus, anytime he speaks up, gamers are going to listen. It seems like every time I want to declare Natal a terrible idea something like this comes out and makes me bite my tongue. We shall see where it all leads, but at least the best in the gaming industry are going to be working on creating games for it.

Speaking of Natal, Red Octane President Kai Huang commented on it saying that he expects Guitar Hero to do something to integrate the technology into the series. He suggested that perhaps the game could use motion detection to see how the player is playing, or perhaps taking advantage of it for party purposes.

Not sure how Guitar Hero could integrate Natal directly into the gameplay in any meaningful way, since the game is nothing without its instrument peripherals and offers nothing without them. The only thing I can think of is that they could use it to have the characters in the game mimic the actions of the player. While that could be a really cool feature, it's not really adding anything to the core gameplay. That would just be more of a nice shiny feature that I could take or leave.

Xbox 360 Elite Price Now Down To $249 For A Limited Time

Microsoft has announced that they will be offering a $50 mail-in rebate on the Xbox 360 Elite until October 5th. The Elite just recently had its price reduced to $299, so with the rebate now it's all the way down to $249. You will be able to get the rebate off of Microsoft's website here.

This tells me that Microsoft might be trying to curb the momentum Sony has been building in the last few weeks. It's a great deal, so if you're looking to buy a 360 I would definitely jump on this deal, but make sure you get in on it before it expires on the 5th.

New Games, Levels Headed For Xbox Live Arcade

News on Xbox Live Arcade games coming out from TGS included the official announcing of 5 new games as well as some news on extra levels for a few other games. Topping the news is word that gamers will be able to unlock some free extra levels for South Park Let's Go Tower Defense Play! By visiting the website southparkstudios.com. All it appears that you need to do is to visit the site between September 28 and October 2 and hope you can get one of the free codes to unlock the level. The game itself comes out on October 7th. Also announced was a new level for the game Joy Ride along with news about a few new game modes for the game. The highlight from that is if you get bored with some of the more traditional game modes you can ride around delivering pizza. Finally, 5 new games were announced. Toy Soldiers has the player using the little green plastic men in a strategy game, while Snoopy Ace Flying has you using the Snoopy and the rest of the gang from Peanuts to compete in various airplane based games. 0 Day Attack On Earth features the player battling aliens in aerial combat over several major cities. Bomberman Live Battlefest needs no real explanation, it's classic Bomberman action! RayStorm HD is an updated version of RayStorm with better graphics.

I'm actually a little interested in picking up the South Park game. I'm a big fan of tower defense games, and with South Park attached to it it'll probably have a decent amount of humor in it. Other than that, most of the games don't do much for me. I've never been a big Arcade game guy, I usually just prefer to use my money on full length games with a greater depth to them.

Quick Hits

  • Microsoft released a limited-time Halo 3:ODST theme for Xbox Live Gold members, and it's free! Get it while it lasts.

  • Xbox Live Arcade games Brain Challenge, Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting, and 3D Ultra Mini Golf have all been given discounted prices.

  • The Ecko brand of clothing is going to be releasing a Halo3: ODST themed hoodie, which you can see picture below. Not too bad, I suppose, but I'm not sure if I'm willing to drop that much money ($88) on a video game article of clothing that I wouldn't really want to have to explain the meaning of to some of my female friends.

  • Square Enix will be coming out with a new puzzle RPG game called Gyromancer for the Xbox Live Arcade.

  • Netflix may be looking to expand their services on consoles to the PS3 and the Nintendo Wii.

  • Game developer Rare is saying that a release of Goldeneye, the hit game from the N64, is unlikely for Xbox Live or any other system for that matter. I know that they made one attempt that met a lot of roadblocks and other problems, and it sounds like that effectively killed the effort.

  • The release date for Bioshock 2 has been released by 2k Games. The follow-up to the massive hit is set to hit shelves on February 9, 2010.

  • Infinity Ward developers are saying that, at present, they are not working on the inevitable Modern Warfare 3. They are saying they are not even sure what their next project will be. Perhaps we will see a futuristic FPS as was rumored before plans for Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare were solidified?

  • The mandatory Xbox 360 system update that was released this week may have been causing some issues with signing in to Xbox Live, but those issues have now been cleared up.

  • Infinity Ward has announced that they will not be including a follow up to Call of Duty: World at War's popular Nazi Zombies mode. IW developers have said that they would rather keep the entire game cohesive, and that Zombies and ray guns don't seem to necessarily mesh that well with the rest of the game.

  • Be wary, there are hackers that are posing as Call of Duty: World at War community manager JD 2020. If you happen to get a message from anyone with that gamer tag asking for money, MS points, or personal information in exchange for some special exclusive for the game, DO NOT give it out, it is a hoax! Microsoft is currently investigating the issue.

  • Capcom is currently working on a director's cut edition of Resident Evil 5. I played the game a bit but never got through much of it. It will be interesting to hear what Capcom plans on adding to the game, so far there is no word on what is being worked on.

Deal of the Week

Last week I featured a deal from Target with a few different games discounted. This week, due to some time constraints, I didn't have too much time to dig around for a great deal. However, I did spot this nugget from Target that has a couple more games on sale. Street Fighter IV is now down to $27.98 while Terminator: Salvation can be had for just $34.98.

Trailer Park

The first trailer is for Left 4 Dead 2. Quality isn't the greatest as it is taken from a cam at TGS, but it's still a pretty sweet looking trailer.

Our second trailer is another look at Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony. This one introduces us to the character Yusuf Amir.

Our third trailer is for Splinter Cell: Conviction. Looks very nice, especially digging the part where he shoots the guys gun out of his hand before blasting him in the face. Hopefully that's something you can actually do in the game.


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