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Archive for November, 2008

Other Consoles Still Trail Behind the Nintendo Wii in Sales

Posted by haunt506e on November 30, 2008

System Sales, November 2008Nintendo has recently reported selling just over 35 million Wii units since its inception in Fall 2006.  10 million units ahead of the 360 and 18 million ahead of the PS3, the Wii continues to outsell both consoles worldwide.  Even more interesting however is the console battle in Japan.  The PS3 has, since its launch, sold almost 3 million units to its home territory.  The Wii, on the otherhand, has sold almost 7 million units, doubling the PS3’s sales.  In Japan the Xbox 360 is still struggling, but GameDaily reports a 157.1% increase in 360 sales during the past 7 months.  Since its launch date in 2005, the Xbox 360 has sold only a measly 750,000 units to Japan, and, despite the 157.1% increase in sales, the Xbox 360 still trails behind the competition in Japan.

In Japan, console sales are as follows.  This quote has been taken from the original post on GameDaily.

Xbox 360: 748,992
PS3: 2,369,484
DS: 6,449,206
DS Lite: 17,080,747
Wii: 6,826,612
PSP: 10,181,888
PS2: 21,454,325

What makes the Wii so succesful is its huge market group.  The console is aimed at just about everybody except actual gamers (that’s why this is the first Wii post on this blog).  For real gamers and even the markets that the console is selling to, the console won’t last.  I’ve got a few friends with Wii’s, and, even when the Wii is the only console in the house, it still collects dust.  Its controllers are great at first, and prospective users are wowed by the simplicity of its design and gameplay, only to be disappointed when these great features are really only applied to a select few games (very select, very few).  One of my pals has bought a game for the PS2 rather than buy the same game for the Wii because of its unrealiable controls (unrealiable meaning the controls only work for less than 5% of the Wii’s games).

Xbox 360 sales and PS3 sales trail behind the Wii sales, but, if you take it from a longevity and gamer’s perspective, the 360 and the PS3 aren’t really doing that bad.  As far as software sales go (the games), the Wii is doing a little worse than the Xbox 360 but a little better than the PS3.  MyBroadband News reports the following.

The Xbox 360 has sold an average 6.6 games for each console that it has sold in the past 23 months. Nintendo’s Wii in comparison has sold 5.5, and the PS3 comes in last with 5.3 games sold per console.

While yes, the Xbox 360 has been around a bit longer than both the Wii and PS3, I seriously doubt the Wii’s games per console sales to pass up the 360’s.

Console WarsRight now at the current state of the console wars, the Xbox 360 seems to be doing reasonably well, outselling its predecessor and is dominating the “hardcore” gamer market.  In addition, the 360 is outselling the Wii and the PS3 as far as game sales go.  The Wii seems to be destroying the competition on console sales, but seems a bit behind the 360 on game sales, which is to be expected.  I doubt I will ever own a Wii, but, for the people that do own one, enjoy it now because it gets old pretty fast.  And the PS3, on the otherhand, is doing alright, holding its own in third (last) place.  I think the major problem with the PS3 is just that it got off to a bad start, keeping it from making headway early on, and the PS3 is now playing “catch up” with the rest of the consoles.  Now it’s got the games and the hardware, but Sony’s PS3 just hasn’t made as large of an impact as the Xbox 360 or the Wii.

In short, the Wii sells a lot, but, for actual gamers, fails as a console.  The Xbox 360 is still the best console for gamers, with the PS3 struggling (I wouldn’t say struggling, but I couldn’t think of the right word) to keep up.

Posted in News, Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3, Xbox 360 | Leave a Comment »

Recent Gears of War 2 Patch Supposedly Speeds Up Matchmaking

Posted by haunt506e on November 28, 2008

Gears of War 2Earlier today EPIC released the first patch for Gears of War 2, a patch focused almost entirely on fixing the game’s ridiculously slow matchmaking system.  I’ve gotten some time to test out the new patch, and, I’ve gotta say, it didn’t really change much.  The matchmaking is still riddled with those “wtf?” moments, long search times, and infinite search loops.  For my friends and I, getting into a Gears of War 2 match kind of goes like this…

  1. Matchmaking is started.
  2. After 2 minutes, matchmaking is restarted.
  3. After 2 minutes, matchmaking is switched to a different game type.
  4. After 2 seconds, a match is found.
  5. When the match is over and you’ve waited the useless 25 seconds in the post-game lobby (why?), repeat the process.

Gears of War 2 is a great game, better than the first even.  However, where it fails is not in some game mechanic or concept, but in its terrible truskill or whatever matchmaking system.  Truskill doesn’t work, every developer needs to get that into their heads.  Matchmaking is fine by me, but destroy the steaming pile of excrement that is truskill (I don’t know if that’s the correct spelling, but whatever).  I’ve been playing Left 4 Dead a lot the past couple of days, do you know how long, on average, it takes to find a match via matchmaking (without truskill thank god)?  Around 3 seconds.  No restarting the matchmaking, no switching playlists, all it takes is a simple select game type, difficulty, and level, and a match is found almost instantly.  Yeah, I know L4D uses dedicated servers, but that has nothing to do with the actual matchmaking (as in finding a game) part of the deal.

So really EPIC, fix your product, because for the time being, it is unplayable by myself and no doubt hundreds of thousands of others.  The game’s great, but right now I’d kinda like to continue the multiplayer experience, but unfortunately cannot because of the s*** servers.  I could forgive this poor quality on launch day and even a few days later when I was writing my review, but I can’t overlook the terrible performance 21 days after launch.

But I guess I must give credit where credit is due.  After all, the title update did do something.  Instead of having to restart matchmaking three times to get a match, now you only have to restart it twice…

Posted in News, Xbox 360 | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Beat the “No Mercy” Finale on Expert Mode!

Posted by haunt506e on November 27, 2008

Left 4 DeadJust found this video earlier today when me and my buds were stuck on the No Mercy Finale.  Yeah, it’s a cheap way of “winning,” but we had been fighting for hours and two of us had to leave because it was getting late.  So if you’re stuck and really want that Zombicidal Maniac achievement, check out this video and it’s a sure fire way of beating No Mercy’s finale.  Of course, you’ll have to get to the finale first, which isn’t easily achieved either.  For the actual chapters of No Mercy, just stay close together, avoid friendly fire, don’t use medi-kits until absolutely necessary, and remember the melee button!  This video is not mine, I’ll be posting its notes, authors, etc. in a quote box directly after the video.

Found by – XxGaMeRJUNKIExX
Others In Video – Louis, Derka506, sharpfire122.
Comment, Rate, Subscribe.
Band – Rob Zombie
Song – White Zombie
*CONTACT INFORMATION*
Aim: ZeroGreaterThan
Gamertag: XxGaMeRJUNKIExX
– Disclaimer –
All the following material is being used with permission from Valve and Powered by Source. ©2008.

Posted in Game Guides, News, PC, Xbox 360 | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Left 4 Dead Full Review

Posted by haunt506e on November 24, 2008

Left 4 Dead Full ReviewI’m getting kinda sick of first person shooters, but that hasn’t stopped me from picking up one of the best games of this year, Left 4 Dead. The first-person shooter sets you up in a post-apocalyptic world filled to the brim with blood thirsty zombies. These zombies aren’t the slow, stupid Resident Evil type. These zombies run at you and swarm around you, pulling you down and attacking you with the most primitive of weapons: their own hands. So yeah, we’ve all seen games from the horror survival series, but what makes Left 4 Dead so unique? Keep reading to find out.

Welcome to the zombie apocalypse.

Welcome to the zombie apocalypse.

Graphics/Audio:

Left 4 Dead is one of the best looking games that I’ve seen so far. It might not look all that great on the first play through, partly because you’re running through each level incredibly fast and nerve-racked, but also because the detail in this game is very subtle. Zombies are animated extremely well, and as long as you haven’t alerted them of your presence yet, you can sit and watch them stumble around, puke, or even fight amongst themselves. Up close the zombies look very well, as do the survivor character models, their clothes being detailed down to the zipper chain. In addition to the character models, the environments are incredibly detailed and realistic. You will see sleeping bags, cooking pots, graffiti (fun to read), coffee cups, newspapers, televisions, and all kinds of other everyday objects that have been left behind in the ensuing madness of the zombie plague. Thanks to the Source engine, most of these objects will fly about and can be knocked over by bullet fire and melee, and rooms will be disfigured after an abrupt battle.

On the audio side of things, the game sounds great too. Zombies sound disgusting, especially special zombies, like the Boomer, who will make nasty puking noises to alert you of his presence. These sounds are eerie and will help you become a more informed player if you listen to various cues within the game, and overall make the game a much more immersive experience. Your survivor teammates will also shout and yell when various things are happening, and their conversation is usually pretty varied, as each character has something like over 1,000 different recordings, each one for use in different situations.

Single Player:

Single player is a blast while it lasts, but the multiplayer component is where the game really shines.

Single player is a blast while it lasts, but the multiplayer component is where the game really shines.

This is a unique game in that it’s single player will be very short. Single player is fun, but if this game was a single player only title, it’d only be a rent most likely. As for the details, those will all be in the multiplayer section, because the single player and multiplayer both are essentially the same game, the key difference being that in single player, you have bots controlling your three teammates, and in multiplayer, those teammates are controlled by humans… And now the multiplayer section. While this next section is the multiplayer, I’m using it to go into all the details of the game, as the game is, in and of itself, a multiplayer title.

Multiplayer:

Briefly, I’d like to go over the four types of “special” zombies that you will see in this game.

Sure, you can play the game a couple times through on single player, but you may be asking, what will keep the game’s replayability up? Vault’s new concept, the AI Director, does just that. In Left 4 Dead, you might breeze through an apartment building one time without encountering any zombies. The next play through maybe there’s a few zombies milling about. Yet the next time, you could be rushed by swarms of zombies, fighting a desperate close quarters fight for survival. The AI Director ensures everything is random and different, zombies will come at different times from different directions in larger or smaller groups, depending on how well the group is doing. Weapons, ammo, and health will be set up in different locations, and the game rewards you for checking and searching rooms often, as health will never be in the same location twice (with the exception of safe houses).

The Director will also control the sounds and lighting of Left 4 Dead’s various campaigns, ensuring that each play through gives you a different horror experience each time, and the unique audio cues fit in very well with the game’s atmosphere. While the audio changes are somewhat tough to pick up on, they are there and they do make a difference, often at the subconscious level. This isn’t an essential feature, but it’s noteworthy, seeing how most games will just put in set tracks to play at set times, creating a linear sequence of events. Sounds will also change depending on the level, and while some sounds are the same throughout the game, certain cues will be unique to a specific environment.

Speaking of levels, the game’s got four total campaigns, all four of which are playable in single player and multiplayer campaign modes, and two of the maps are playable in multiplayer versus mode (more on that later). Left 4 Dead features rural, urban, and forested areas, as well as several unique locations, all horrifying in their own right and littered with debris and graffiti that hint at past events relating to the zombie apocalypse. It doesn’t seem like a big variety at first, but because each map takes anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes or more to complete in campaign mode (depending on difficulty), and almost double that amount in versus mode, you’ll come to enjoy the enormous size of each level and the linear-yet-non-linear feel to the game’s various stages. Each map is set up with four safe houses and five areas in between each safe house, ending with a “finale,” or a huge battle between the survivors and the infected whilst the survivors wait for their evacuation vehicle to come pick them up.

No matter which mode you are playing, team work is essential to success.

No matter which mode you are playing, team work is essential to success.

No matter which mode you’re playing, the game pretty much revolves around you and your team and their movement from one safe house to another. Along the way you’ll kill zombies, find items, and revive teammates, as I’ve said before. However, thanks to the AI Director and the game’s steep difficulty settings (easy is easy, anything else gets real tough real fast), Left 4 Dead can keep you entertained for hours on end. Personally, I like the Campaign mode, and enjoy getting a full party of four players and going through the campaign, preferably on advanced mode, the second highest difficulty. We generally don’t have any problems until the finale, at which advanced soon becomes impossible, and after a few failures (I blame my incompetent team members), we vote (yeah that’s right, you can vote to change the difficulty, kick a player, or to restart the chapter) to switch the game back to normal. Left 4 Dead has a pretty steep learning curve when played on the top difficulty levels, and I’m sure it’ll be a while before teams are assembled who are good enough to regularly go through a campaign on expert.

Cooperative mode defines the game play experience for Left 4 Dead, but if you don’t stay hooked on the cooperative campaign portion of this game, you’ll probably find the game’s versus mode very enjoyable. While versus mode is only playable on two out of the four campaigns, it effectively doubles the length of each campaign, giving each team a chance to progress through a chapter. In versus mode, one team controls the “special” zombies (Boomer, Smoker, Hunter, or Tank) while the other controls the survivors. The four survivors must try and make their way through the selected level, killing the AI-controlled zombie hordes in addition to the human-controlled special zombies. When the survivors either reach the safe house or die, the teams switch sides and the survivors become the zombies, trying to take out the new survivors as they try to beat their opponent’s score. Scores are set by the survivor team, who can increase their points by moving farther along on the map, making it to the safe house, and by keeping their health up and their buddies alive. While players control the infected, they gain no points, but instead try to prevent the survivors from gaining points.

Left 4 Dead is some of the most fun I’ve had in a video game in a long time. It’s not revolutionary (although in a way, it kinda is), it doesn’t have the best graphics (but they are pretty sweet), and while the game play is awesome, it’s not the most expansive FPS in terms of maps, weapons, and equipment. However, where Left 4 Dead really shines is its fun factor and the immersive, replayable, unique experience that it offers. It’s a one of a kind game and I’m really looking forward to further expansions and DLC that will come out for the game in the future, further expanding the game’s value.

Left 4 Dead is hectic and chaotic, yet is still one of the deepest cooperative experiences that I've seen in a while.

Left 4 Dead is hectic and chaotic, yet still maintains a deep, unique cooperative experience.

Verdict:

One of the most addicting and fun games that I’ve played in a long time, Left 4 Dead, thanks in part to its revolutionary “AI Director” and its incredible cooperative experience, is a Great Buy for any PC or Xbox 360 owner. However, it’s worth a mention that if you don’t have access to the internet or are otherwise unable to play this game online with multiple players, I would limit the rating to a Good Rental.

Posted in PC, Reviews, Xbox 360 | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

New Xbox Experience Review… Sort of…

Posted by haunt506e on November 20, 2008

Those of you Xbox 360 owners who are connected to Xbox Live will have no doubt already discovered the New Xbox Experience.  Most Live subscribers downloaded the update yesterday when prompted by their 360s upon trying to sign into Xbox Live.  Well, it’s here, and I’ve gotta say, I’m impressed.  This “review” isn’t gonna delve into a bunch of the features and details, but instead I’m just going to briefly tell you guys what I think thus far.

NXE Party SystemMy favorite aspect of the New Xbox Experience (NXE from this point forward) is the option to create a Party.  Sure, you’ve created parties before in maybe Halo 3, Call of Duty 4, or, more recently, Gears of War 2.  But have you created a party linking your friends that are playing Halo 3 with your friends that are playing Gears of War 2?  The NXE allows you to do so, and enables open voice chat between you and up to 7 other friends to communicate, no matter what game each respective party member is playing.  Just last night I played Left 4 Dead while my buddies were playing Custom Games in Gears 2, and I was talking to all of them with extreme ease.  Parties are very well constructed, allowing you to, when viewing the dashboard, check out your party.  This screen will show each party member’s avatars milling about a small area, with random items in the background (depending on your current theme).

As far as downloading content goes, I haven’t had a chance to download anything too major.  However, speeds seem to be about the same, and the NXE hasn’t done anything to really improve the speed of the servers (didn’t think it would) or the speed of the operating system.  It is still relatively cumbersome to open the guide and invite friends to games, but it’s not a whole lot to complain about.

In addition, the entire Xbox Guide screen has been redesigned.  I’m not talking about the dashboard, but rather the menu that comes up when you hit the middle Xbox button on your controller.  It’s been reconstructed as well, this time showing you a miniature version of the older Xbox Dashboard, complete with various tabs, including Marketplace, Xbox Live/Home, Games, Media, and System Settings.  I haven’t messed with any of the mini guide’s settings, but I think you can do just about anything with the mini dashboard as you can with the old dashboard (you can’t view friends’ avatars when using the mini dashboard, however).

Games TabA few other neat additions that I’ll have to try are hard installing games onto your drive and Netflix.  Hard installing lets you install a game directly to your HDD, and, while this isn’t really that great if you’re stuck with the 20GB, it supposedly cuts down your load times by up to 40% when playing that specific game.  Netflix allows you to rent and watch movies directly from your Xbox, and, as I’ve heard from friends (no confirmation though), you are able to watch movies with your friends over Live, even if you didn’t pay for the movie.  As long as one friend has a Netflix subscription and rented a movie, you can all watch it together.

So all in all the NXE is a great new social experience for Live.  Microsoft took a pretty swell direction in the creation of this update, and I’m liking all it has to offer thus far.  For those complaining about the Avatars, they’re not really that bad.  Sure, we could all do without them, but the new party systems and friends lists wouldn’t be the same without the Avatars.  If for some reason you haven’t downloaded it yet, what are you waiting for?  For those without Live subscriptions, I think Microsoft will be putting out a file that you can write to a CD or something like that.  As far as I know, they’re still working on providing the NXE for Xbox 360 owners without Live.

I won’t be putting a rating on this because it is a mandatory update for all 360s connected to Live.

Posted in Reviews, Xbox 360 | Leave a Comment »

Left 4 Dead Prerelease Preview

Posted by haunt506e on November 17, 2008

Left 4 Dead Prerelease PreviewZombie RushAre you a fan of post-apocalyptic zombie survival games? Do you enjoy first person cooperative shooters? Do you enjoy the though of combining these two questions into one? If you have answered yes to any of the above questions, and you’re a gamer, you will have no doubt heard of Left 4 Dead, Valve’s next big release.

The game revolves around 4 characters – Francis, Bill, Louis, and Zoey – who are stranded in either one of four locales. Your job as one of these characters is to make it to safety, with or without your team (trying to attempt the latter will result in almost immediate failure). At its core, Left 4 Dead emphasizes teamwork. If you get left behind, you will quickly get picked off by one of the game’s 5 zombie bosses, each requiring a team member’s help to defeat. On the way, in addition to fighting off hordes of fast, intelligent zombies, you’ll pick up health, ammunition, and various explosive items, as well as additional weapons. Each locale, also called a campaign, features 5 unique stages, or maps. These maps are loaded separately but are meant to be played one after the other.

Sounds cool right? Well, it gets even cooler. You might think that after beating the game’s 4 campaigns, which each take from 45-90 minutes to complete, depending on difficulty settings, the game is over. Well, thanks to Valve’s AI “Director,” each game is guaranteed to be different. Not only do zombies spawn at different places and attack at different times from different directions, each round features different weapon and health locations, and the Director will even change the sounds and lighting to fit the mood. Every game play experience is different. I’ve played the demo’s 2 maps (2/5 of a campaign) well over 10 different times, and I could still go back and play them some more. The point is, the AI “Director” ensures that no game is the same, and gives this game a ton of replay value.

Zombies in the Woods!Maybe that’s still not enough for you. Maybe you’re a multiplayer fan? Left 4 Dead’s got that too. In the Multiplayer Versus mode, 4 human survivor players face off against 4 human-controlled zombie characters in addition to the AI-controlled horde, diversifying the experience even more. It’s the same game as before, only this time the zombies will communicate and act together, setting up ambushes and traps in order to defeat the survivors. For those without live, split screen modes are available as well, with AI bots taking the place of the otherwise human survivors.

Valve also plans on releasing downloadable content packs in the form of new campaigns, characters, weapons, items, and boss zombies to its customers. The Left 4 Dead DLC will be, as far as I know, available for free for PC owners as soon as the DLC is released, but Valve has had some difficulty with Microsoft over releasing this same content free of charge on the Xbox 360. Whatever the case, I won’t mind paying $5.00-$10.00 on additional content for Left 4 Dead, especially when the game has such an incredibly high replay value.

Left 4 Dead comes out tomorrow, November 18th, in the United States and on Friday, November 21st, in Europe for the Xbox 360, PS3, and the PC. If you haven’t already preordered or reserved your copy, hit the stores quickly for your copy, this one’ll be big.

Posted in PC, Previews, Xbox 360 | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Gears of War 2 Multiplayer Guide

Posted by haunt506e on November 17, 2008

Gears of War 2Gears of War 2 Multiplayer GuideGears of War 2 is a third person shooter characterized not only by its enormously gritty and gory hyper-violent game play, but also by the game mechanics that have made it into one of the best games of this year. The whole “get into cover or you’ll die” thing going on with Gears 2 works extremely well, and the cover system in Gears 2 has been put into a much greater light now than in the original Gears, thanks in part to the nerfing of the infamous Gnasher Shotgun.  

And so, Gears of War 2’s game play, while using theoretically the same formula as the original, plays much differently.  You may find it very frustrating in multiplayer to be chainsawed to death for the twentieth time after trying to shotgun rush the opposing team. Well, in short, a lot of things (such as shotgun rushing) don’t work in Gears 2 like they did in Gears 1.  This guide will serve as a way to bridge the gap and possibly help you become better prepared for your next multiplayer encounter in Gears of War 2.  A knowledge of common battlefield strategies, ie: flanking, taking cover, etc., is assumed.

In addition to various battlefield maneuvers, I’m assuming that you’ve played a first person or third person shooter before and are familiar with its basic concepts, controls, etc.  I won’t go into detail on map or level design, specific movements, etc., but rather on how to handle situations based on which weapon you find yourself carrying.

Without further ado, let’s jump into the Gears of War 2 Multiplayer Guide.  Feel free to comment on my guide and add your own tips to the mix.

Tactics:

  • Gears of War 2 is very different from the original.  Do not, under any circumstances, associate the game play of one game with the game play of the other.  They do look and feel the same, but the weapons fire differently in each game and after you have become accustomed to one version, you must completely change your play style to fit the other.
  • Cover: They give it to you for a reason.  Maps are set up in such a way that cover is always plentiful, and should be used for suppressing fire, flanking maneuvers, etc.  While you should be using cover for protection, that doesn’t mean sit there and unload clip after clip on the enemy.  Use cover to slowly work your way around the enemy’s main force, and move into closer range where the lancer and the shotgun are much more effective.  I’ll get into each weapon’s pros/cons later.
  • Rushing: Rushing in Gears 2 does not work, and should be avoided.  You can rush an enemy’s position if given enough covering fire or if a pathway opens up, but do not, I repeat, do not just rush the enemy that’s firing straight at you.  All weapons in the game exhibit some sense of stopping power, meaning as you run at an enemy who is firing at you, you will get pushed backwards, running much slower.
  • Communication: Teamwork is obviously essential to winning a match online in Gears of War 2.  Whether you’re coordinating an assault or organizing a strategic retreat, it is important that you talk to your teammates.  Even if you don’t know the people on your team, a simple, “Watch the left side,” or “Grenade!” will increase the longevity of your team and your chances of winning.
  • I could go on and on about different Gears of War 2 tactics, but these tactics will change depending on which weapon you are using, and I will go into more detail on each specific weapon next.

Weapon Tactics:

  • LancerLancer: The game’s standard issue assault rifle, the lancer soon becomes both the newbie and the veteran’s best friend.  It can lay down some heavy mid-range covering fire and functions almost better than the shotgun in most close range situations, and is all around a well balanced weapon.  Where it fails is at long range.  Keep that in mind, and you should be able to use the lancer to its full extent.  When using the lancer, your ultimate goal should be to close the distance between you and your target, where you can either chainsaw them to pieces or gun them down at close range, where the lancer excels.  Doing this actually isn’t that difficult.  By using cover to your advantage, and with the help of your team, you can easily flank an enemy’s position, get to the side of their cover where you can get some shots off, and just unload on your target.  If you’re getting rushed while holding the lancer, no need to panick, the stopping power from your gun will slow down the rusher, causing him to fall flat at your feet before he even becomes a threat.  Keep up the active reloads and the accuracy and you’ll be holding one of the most deadly weapons on the battlefield.
  • GnasherGnasher: Gears of War 2 has nerfed the traditional Gears of War shotgun, making it significantly less powerful and slower than the original weapon.  That doesn’t mean that the gun is worthless, however.  In most cases, the shotgun has more range than people think, and I know from personal experience that it can outgun a lancer at mid-range (I’m talking less than 10ft, just out of chainsaw range).  Keep it handy, and you can use it if you’re close enough to an enemy to deliver the killing blow, but maybe there is some cover in they way or it’s too dangerous to clear the distance between yourself and your target in order to chainsaw said target.  The gnasher is useful in these select circumstances, and, while it has potential, I don’t see it as an incredibly useful weapon.  It is always my first choice in Gears 2 to drop the shotgun for a different weapon, rather than the lancer, as I did in Gears of War 1.
  • Hammerburst: Like the Lancer, this gun is incredibly effective at mid-range combat.  However, it takes a bit more skill than the lancer, seeing as its a single shot weapon.  In addition, it does not feature a chainsaw.  In an out and out duel between Lancer and Hammerburst, in which both guns start firing at the same time, the Hammerburst will win, not only because it is more accurate, but also because it is more powerful, and consequently offers more stopping power. You use it in much the same way as the lancer, but it is better to stick to the mid-range to long-range when using this gun, as it does not feature a chainsaw and the only close-range capability of the weapon is the standard melee.  This tends to be my standard starting weapon, but I would not recommend it to players who are just getting a feel for the game, mainly because it does not have a chainsaw bayonet.
  • Snub PistolPistols: The pistols are not very effective by themselves, and I don’t recommend charging into a room using the pistol and the melee button. However, when used in conjunction with a shield, meat or boom, they can be devastating.  My personal favorite is the Gorgon, but each pistol has its pros and cons and fire differently, but overall they equal out in most respects.  The standard Snub pistol fires quickly, but its shots don’t do a whole lot of damage and its clip is somewhat small (it’ll also usually require two clips to down somebody).  Boltok pistols, also called revolvers, are very powerful pistols, but fire very slow and again, have a small clip size (you can kill somebody with less than one clip though).  The final pistol, the Gorgon pistol, is an automatic pistol that fires one clip at a time, emptying an entire clip before switching to the next one.  This pistol only has four clips, meaning it will run out after you squeeze the trigger four times.  In addition, it takes a long time to switch clips, meaning that you will have to wait about two seconds in between bursts.  However, it only takes about two well-aimed bursts to down an enemy using this pistol, even less if you’ve scored an active.
  • Frag GrenadesGrenades: Grenades are a little underpowered in Gears of War 2, but are still useful for flushing enemies out of cover or putting pressure on enemies who you might be flanking.  The idea behind the regular frag grenade is not necessarily to kill them outright, but to stun them and deal significant damage so that you can finish off your target with little difficulty.  With the Ink Grenade, the premise is almost exactly the same, but the Ink cloud tends to make enemies move more, and will give you a better chance at intercepting them or catching them offguard.  The new smoke/stun grenade is very unique in that it also knockdowns your enemy, making it one of the best grenades available.  This grenade can be used to rush “chainsawers,” “shotgunners,” or really anybody.  All grenades may be stuck to surfaces and will act as mines, but the only one that you should actually do this with is the frag grenade.
  • Flamethrower: If there is a flamethrower on the map you are playing on, pick it up.  Currently, this weapon is so unbalanced it isn’t even funny.  It will out-shoot any gun at mid-range, and while it’s range is limited, if you’re within say, 15 feet of a guy with a flamethrower, you’re pretty much dead.  As far as tactics go with this weapon, it functions like the shotgun.  Get in close, but not too close (watch for chainsaws).  The flamethrower’s only pitfall is that it has very poor stopping power.  This doesn’t usually matter since it kills your enemies so extremely fast, however, and it’s pure power will make up for any of its shortcomings.
  • LongshotLongshot: The game’s sniper rifle, the Longshot Rifle, is very effective when you’re good with it.  For beginners, I would use it mainly as a support weapon, using it to damage enemies from afar that your friendlies are currently engaging with in close or mid-range combat.  When you start getting better with this weapon, you’ll be getting head shots more often, making it one of the most dangerous weapons on the battlefield, even moreso than the Lancer.  In the right hands, a Longshot can make or break your team, and ensuring that your team maintains control of a sniper rifle is paramount to your success.  Unfortunately, the Longshot is terrible at close range (understandable), has a one shot clip, and is only effective when in the proper hands.  In addition, rushing with a Longshot is just…  stupid.
  • Boomshot: The Boomshot rocket launcher has been almost entirely redone, this time much less powerful, and fits better into the whole scheme of things.  The Boom is pretty unique in its uses, as it can only really be used if you have an open shot on your target (ie: you’re above your target or behind or to the side of your target).  Therefore, flanking maneuvers are very important if you are to use the Boom effectively.  I wouldn’t rely solely on the Boomshot in any situation, as its reload time is pretty slow and its damage, while powerful, is somewhat inconsistent, killing foes it should have only damaged and damaging foes it should have killed.  The Boom is definitely not high on my list of “good” weapons.
  • Torque BowTorque Bow:The Torque functions almost exactly like the Longshot, except the Torque, instead of a scope, uses a laser targeting system. Some people like this weapon better than the Longbow because while it is harder to use for most, if it hits it delivers an instant kill to the target, regardless of where on the target’s body it lands.  It sounds great, but, again, like the Longshot, accuracy with the Torque is achieved through practice, and this weapon, even moreso than the Longshot, only becomes useful when you become pretty well acquainted with how it works.  In addition, it is a little better at close range than the Longshot, seeing as you can back up while blind-firing the weapon with relative accuracy.  Other than that, both guns fire similarly and similar tactics should be used when handling either gun.  Just a note, if you’re using the Torque and there’s a known sniper in the area, be careful.  Snipers can pick off inexperienced Torques with relative ease, as the Torque has to expose his entire body to aim and fire the weapon.
  • Hammer of Dawn: I’ll be quite brief with the Hammer, because I’ve only seen it on one map, a map on which I’ve only actually used the weapon once: Jacinto.  Unfortunately, EPIC has brought the Hammer down to its knees.  I was expecting EPIC to bring the Hammer down a notch or two, but not all the way down to the floor on which it now lies, face down.  Not only is the Hammer a little less powerful, it also has an ammunition bar, that runs out extremely quickly.  So it’s pretty much the Hammer from Gears 1 with a time limit, totalling at about less than 10 seconds of continuous use.  It does have its uses though, while it lasts, namely bunker busting.  It can be used to flush enemies out of cover very quickly, killing stragglers instantly.  When used in conjuction with teammates’ Lancers, Longshots, Hammerbursts, and Torque Bows, the Hammer is a devastating support weapon. However, it just doesn’t last long enough nor does it appear in enough maps to be considered worthwhile.
  • MulcherMulcher: The Mulcher is a very unique weapon.  It’s extremely powerful, and can quickly mow down any advancing enemies or enemies who have carelessly stepped out too far into the open.  However, you are extremely vulnerable and immobile while using this weapon, making you a prime target for just about any mid to long-range gun.  For this reason, I label the Mulcher as a support gun.  It excels at laying down covering fire and at picking off the occasional bad guy who has strayed too far away from the team, but should not be used as a carry-around Lancer-like weapon.  Flanking maneuvers are easy to make against a Mulcher, and as a Mulcher Gunner, you need to keep this in mind (frag grenades work well to seal off flanking points).  Keep your teammates close when you’re carrying the Mulcher, and you should be fine.
  • Mortar: Mortars in most games are considered long-range support weapons, and the Mortar in Gears of War 2 is not acception.  Like the Mulcher, the Mortar makes its user highly immobile and vulnerable, even moreso than the Mulcher because in order to use the Mortar correctly, you must be somewhat distanced from the rest of the battle.  For this reason, enemies can pick off lone Mortar Gunners with extreme ease, so try to keep your position relatively secure when firing off Mortar shells.  Other than that, skill with the Mortar can only come with experience, as you must find out how long the trigger must be held in order to hit at certain distances, how to bring in timing into the equation, etc.  When used correctly, the Mortar is perhaps even more dangerous than the Mulcher, serving mainly as a bunker buster.

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New Xbox Experience Installation Video

Posted by haunt506e on November 15, 2008

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m getting kind of excited about this whole “New Xbox Experience” thing.  I could care less about the little Avatar Mii whatever things, but what really has hooked me is the new party system, inspired by games like Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4 (and 5). Whatever the case, there’s something for everybody in this new update, and more will be added later on down the road.  This video is Xbox Live’s very own Major Nelson explaining how to install the update, and gives a brief, very brief, rundown of a couple of features.  Enjoy and get ready to download the update in 4 days, November 19th.

This quote, like the video, has been taken from Major Nelson’s blog.

Since we’re less than a week out from the launch of the New Xbox Experience on November 19th, we have a video that shows you just how quick and easy the install will be. For many of you, the download and install will take just a few minutes and you’ll be back to gaming before you know it.  If you’re in the preview program, feel free to let others know what to expect.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Battlefield Heroes Moved to 2009

Posted by haunt506e on November 15, 2008

Battlefield Heroes Moved to 2009

If you’ve been keeping up with EA-DICE at all, you’ll have probably heard of their new free-to-play version of the hit game, Battlefield. Dubbed Battlefield Heroes, this version of the game runs similarly to previous installments in the series, the key difference being that now the graphics have taken on a cartoony, cell-shaded look.  The graphics, while basic, look nice, and while I haven’t done too much research into the game (it’s not really on my top games list or anything), it still looks like one of the best free games that will soon be available for download. Now for the actual news.

DICE has just posted on the Battlefield Heroes website that unfortunately, their estimated release of later this fall has been pushed back again to early 2009, the Beta closing up November 14th (yesterday).  It’s really a shame though, since EA had expected the game to be out this summer, and it has since been delayed by DICE twice now due to incomplete “backend” programming, or something of that nature. Creating a game is a lot of work, and creating a free game, especially one that’s as deep as Battlefield Heroes, is just as much, if not more, work, especially considering that the devs in a sense/”theoretically” wouldn’t be getting money for their work (we all know this isn’t true). What I mean by this is that, from a developer’s standpoint, it’s just kind of weird to put a ton of work in the game and just set it up for free downloads.

Taken from the post, James Salt, Senior Producer on the project, gives us more insight into the so-called, “backend” of a program.

Salt: “You know the old saying about icebergs being 10% above water, and 90% below? Heroes is a little like that. There’s the 10% game part you can see, and the hiding 90% is what we call the ‘backend’. The backend does a lot of things. From running the website’s features and looking after the items you have, to collecting the results from each Heroes game and matchmaking players into games.

We have received lots of great feedback from our beta testers. So much so that we are now ready to enter our next phase. On Friday evening (6pm CET) we will be closing down the current Closed Beta and moving our focus to polishing the backend. So for a while there will be no closed beta available to play. We expect to re-open the beta early next year.”

And there you have it.  Sorry Battlefield Heroes fans, you’ll have to wait several more months before you can finally get your hands on this free title.  It’s a PC exclusive (for now) and will be released free sometime next year.

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Orange Box for $29.99

Posted by haunt506e on November 14, 2008

Orange Box is Now $29.99

Now that’s a hell of a deal.

The Orange Box came out last year in October, and features 3 different games, including Half Life (all the way to Episode 2), Team Fortress 2, and Portal.  The game won numerous awards last year for being such a great deal, and for having some great games included in the title.  The Orange Box isn’t just quantity, it’s quality as well, and that is what makes the box so great.  I never picked it up, so I can’t divulge any details from a reviewer’s perspective, but it’s current $29.99 price tag makes it a “why-don’t-you-have-this-yet?” buy.  

Half Life 2, as you all should know, is one of the greatest first person shooters ever created (I’m ashamed that I haven’t yet played it…), and the additional games add more variety to the whole package.  Portal is incredibly unique and addictive in its own right, allowing players to create holes in walls in order to solve puzzles and progress through the game, etc.  Team Fortress 2 is the newest version of Team Fortress, and is pretty much a multiplayer-only game in which players choose a class and take part in various team-based gametypes.  Once again it’s a heck of a deal, and if I don’t scrounge up enough money for Left 4 Dead, I might have to settle for the Orange Box.

It’s not really current news, but I’m starved as far as new news goes, so I have to post something.  More games will be coming out soon enough though, so I’ll be able to post more stuff soon enough.

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