Xbox One | All the facts and figures

We bring you a round-up of all the facts and figures from Microsoft’s reveal of their eight-generation console, the Xbox One.

At Microsoft’s campus in Redmond, Washingon, Don Mattrick, the president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business, revealed its third console, the Xbox One. He described it as “the ultimate, all in one home entertainment system” and revealed it will launch worldwide “later this year”.

Brand new features and architecture

Microsoft confirmed the console will not require a constant internet connection to function, but will require a mandatory download of all content direct to the hard drive. Any further uses of the disc on other registered consoles will require a small fee to activate.

 

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The new console, Kinect sensor and controller, as showcased at the reveal today.

 

Xbox One will also not be backwards-compatible with Xbox or Xbox 360 titles, with Microsoft citing fundamental differences with the architecture of the new hardware.

Kinect has been improved to match the speed of the new hardware, with voice commands and gestures allowing for “live switching” between games, music, live TV and more. Alongside the almost instantaneous switching showcased at the event, users will also be able to quick-snap games and video content with Skype, Internet Explorer and other apps (much like Microsoft have been doing since the launch of the Windows 7 OS).

[quote] The new specifications, which you can check out below, include a Blu-ray drive, a 500GB HDD, 8GB system memory, USB 3.0 and an 8 Core CPU. [/quote]

Alongside a Kinect sensor which recognises your voice and brings you straight to a personalised dashboard, the hardware under the hood is also a significant step forward from the Xbox 360. The new specifications, which you can check out below, include a Blu-ray drive, a 500GB HDD, 8GB system memory, USB 3.0 and an 8 Core CPU.

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Xbox Live reborn

Marc Witten, Microsoft’s corporate president of Xbox Live, commented that the Xbox Live service will be “more powerful, more personal and more intelligent”. When the Xbox 360 launched in 2006, Xbox Live was powered by a total of 3,000 servers. And while that number has steadily increased to around 15,000, Xbox One will be supported by 300,000 servers at launch.

The new and improved service will offer enhanced cloud functionality, an innovative matchmaking system and an improved achievements system that tracks your progress with more than just milestone-style medals. The ability to capture and share gameplay content will also be available, as well as an increased friend limit of 1,000.

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Don Mattrick, the president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business, pictured with the new hardware.

New titles and exclusives

Microsoft also confirmed that the Xbox One will host 15 exclusive IPs over the first 12 months of its release, with eight of them being brand new titles. One of these exclusive titles was revealed to be the newest addition to Turn 10 Studios’ racing simulator franchise, Forza Motorsport 5.

[quote] EA’s new next-gen sports titles will use their new in-house engine, EA Sports Ignite. [/quote]

A new title, Quantum Break, from Alan Wake and original Max Payne developer Remedy was also showcased with a trailer, while EA showed off footage from four of their key sports titles: FIFA 14, Madden NFL, NBA Live 14 and a new UFC instalment. These new titles were showcased using EA’s new in-house engine, EA Sports Ignite.

Exclusive TV content and a new Call of Duty

Nancy Tellem, president of entertainment and digital media at Microsoft, and 343 Industries general manager Bonnie Ross introduced a video message from filmmaker Steven Spielberg, who confirmed he’s executive producing a new live-action series based within the ever-expanding Halo universe.

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A brief glimpse of the new Call of Duty, including the AI dog companion.

Microsoft also announced an exclusive content partnership with the NFL, which promises live updates in-game, including live fantasy football features.

The live event was brought to a close with an exclusive look at the new Activision and Infinity Ward-developed Call of Duty: Ghosts. As well confirming a continuation of the timed-exclusive partnership for its Call of Duty DLC, they also showcased a trailer, a behind the scenes video and a graphical comparison between 2011’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and the new game engine used for Call of Duty: Ghosts.

While an exact date and price structure has yet to be announced, some retailers have estimated the Xbox One will retail around £400 on release. For more Xbox One-related news, features and discussion, keep it infinite.

Check out the trailer and preview footage of Call of Duty: Ghosts from the Xbox One Live Reveal, courtesy of the team at Outside Xbox.

EA to scrap Online Pass system

An EA executive has confirmed the company is doing away with the much-maligned Online Pass system for any future releases.

In a recent response to Gamesbeat, EA senior director of corporate communications John Reseburg confirmed the online activation process would no longer be used in it’s current form for new releases.

“Yes we’re discontinuing Online Pass,” Reseburg told the site. “None of our new titles will include that feature.”

“Initially launched as an effort to package a full menu of online content and services, many players didn’t respond to the format,” Reseburg said. “We’ve listened to the feedback and decided to do away with it moving forward.”

online pass
Current titles like Battlefield 3 and the Madden and FIFA franchises all use an online pass system.

Online passes have been a common feature of EA’s releases for years, but their inclusion has forced second-hand buyers to purchase a new pass to grant access to any multiplayer features.

As to how this will affect EA’s existing catalogue of games has yet to be confirmed, but we’ve reached out to EA for further clarification.

EA also recently confirmed the upcoming Insomniac Games-developed shooter Fuse will not include an online pass to access its multiplayer and co-operative features. For our first impression on the new Fuse demo, click here.

Fuse | Our First Impressions of the Demo

We’ve been spending some time in Insomniac Games’ new cover shooter Fuse. Does this demo code get us excited for an Insomniac title that doesn’t feature Ratchet & Clank? Does it offer a co-op experience like no other? Is it a Gears clone? Read on, solider…

Demos can be odd little things. They’re usually based on code that’s considerably more advanced than most preview codes (although they tend to be far shorter in terms of actual gameplay). Demos can either give you a decent preview of what the finished product will look like or it can be an orchestrated sleight of hand to hide a poor quality reality. Thankfully, the new Fuse demo looks to be of the former variety and it’s given us a good idea of what Insomniac can do with a different genre.

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Thankfully, all the cover mechanics are reliable and responsive.

The power of fuse

Fuse is third-person, cover-orientated shooter from the bods behind the slick (if now fatigued) Ratchet & Clank series. With the last few R&C titles, developer Insomniac Games has been pushing its focus towards finding the perfect co-op formula. And while these co-op dreams have struggled to take root in the Ratchet universe, they’re much better suited to the world of cover-based shooters.

But what makes Fuse stand out from the crowd? Co-operative play has been done already (and done well, a la Gears of War 3), so Insomniac has brought its trump card to the table: fuse. The unstable alien energy source is the pivotal arc of the story, and the four characters available can use it with a variety of weapons and abilities.

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Using your team’s abilities in the right combination is key to progressing in Fuse.

Each of the four characters has a unique weapon and ability that you’ll need in certain situations. Dalton Brooks’Magshield is a key defensive weapon, which can be used to create shield big enough to protect the entire team and repel enemy fire. Izzy Sinclaire has a Shattergun, an assault rifle that can freeze enemies and shatter them like glass. Jacob Kimble has a mercury spewing Arshot rifle and Naya Deveraux can tear enemies apart with singularity bullets and turn invisible with the power of fuse. Other weapons can be swapped in and out around each main weapon, which can be upgraded via a persistent XP system.

A team effort

Fuse, even on the standard difficulty setting available, is far from a walkthrough. The Raven soldiers you’re taking on are all sporting some tough armour and their own fuse-powered weapons. Just ploughing into a fire fight will always end the same way. Insomniac has done a great job balancing difficulty with the need to combine your teams’ abilities to progress. Even when playing with three AI team members, we found the AI was aggressive enough to take out enemies while falling back to revive you or other team members if they fall. The AI was particularly dynamic when facing the Leadfoot mini-bosses, circling around them to give you an opening to hit their weak spot.

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Okay, there may be a pattern to these screenshots…

We also liked the inclusion of different enemy types, including a Raven solider that could heal his comrades within a certain range. Having these elite enemies among larger throngs requires a team effort to sway what could easily descend into mayhem and a game over screen. We also liked the ability to Leap between each character (if you’re playing single-player) – this hotswapping mechanic is a great way to utilise a certain team members ability in a worsening situation.

A mixture of influences

And while there our elements from fellow third-person shooters present in Fuse (revives, quick-snapping between cover, etc), it does try to do something a little different. Insomniac have tried to distance themselves from the traditional weighted feel of most shooters of this ilk by creating environments and obstacles that need to be climbed and traversed to bypass. The animations, controls and general feel of the climbing mechanics pretty much screams Uncharted, but this is no bad thing. Being able to scale certain parts of an environment is pretty refreshing, allowing you another level of depth to your strategy.

Overall, we enjoyed what the Fuse demo had to offer. Playing online or with friends is by far the superior experience, but the Leap mechanic is a great way to utilise the full teams potential when playing solo. While the characters and settings do look nice, they’re also super-generic – we hope the shipping code gives a greater variety of locales to avoid Fuse falling into the same design tropes that dog a game with a science fiction setting.

You can download the Fuse demo from Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network right now.

The Sims 4 confirmed for 2014 release

The Sims 4, the popular life-sim franchise from EA and developer Maxis, makes its return to PCs and Macs next year.

While the return of The Sims franchise is of no real surprise, it’s the announcement that the game will feature an offline mode that’s got people talking: “The Sims 4 celebrates the heart and soul of the Sims themselves, giving players a deeper connection with the most expressive, surprising and charming Sims ever in this single-player offline experience,” reads the press release.

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The Sims 3 from 2009. All fun and games.

Following the significant (read: diabolical) issues SimCity had with DRM since its launch in March this year, the incorporation of an offline component would seem to be a wise move on the part of EA and Maxis.

There’s no further info or media available at this time, but we’ll have more info on The Sims 4 (and the possibility of next-gen console versions) as soon as it drops. Keep it infinite!

SimCity | Release your inner god

It’s been nearly 10 years since the release of SimCity 4 and thankfully, Maxis has been busy reinventing their hugely successful city building simulator from the ground up complete with a new engine. This will be the sixth major release of the SimCity series and is due for release on PC and Mac on the 05th March 2013. So what can us eager mayors expect from “The most anticipated game of 2013″?

[quote]This is a new SimCity that delivers unprecedented depth of simulation. The model-like world and detail of the simulation make this the most responsive and personal SimCity ever.[/quote]

SimCity

Powering your beautifully crafted or crime ridden hell holes, will be a brand new engine called GlassBox. This engine works differently from previous simulation games which first simulate high-level statistics, then create graphic animations to represent this date. GlassBox replaces those statistics with agents, simulation units that represent objects like coal, power, and workers; each graphic animation is directly linked to an agent’s activity.

Every Sim, every car, every building has a purpose in SimCity. Sims go to work, purchase items, consume goods and live in a home (unless they’re homeless). GlassBox simulates real city behavior: Cars exhibit authentic traffic patterns, water actually travels down pipes, and fire spreads in realistic radiuses.

SimCity UFO

Hasn’t everything got multiplayer these days? Well SimCity is no different although you won’t be playing any angry 13 year old’s just yet as it’s limited to your friends. Depending on how much you like on your friends, you can chose to be good and lend them some of your resources or specialize in industries which create a lot of pollution and watch as the toxic smog makes your neighbours city ill.

The new SimCity features an advanced global market that simulates true supply and demand prices based on the decisions of players around the world! If you decide to specialize your cities in big business, you can buy and sell raw materials and manufactured goods over the global market. If water is a record high in prices, will you still buy on the global market or claim another city in your region and import? Each city has finite resources, so you may start with a clean wind farm, but have to import oil to power your growing city. The Global Market provides another way to play!

Sim City Global Market

The Sims in your city are an intelligent but vocal bunch who aren’t shy about letting you know how your doing as a Mayor. Fail to meet their demands and you’ll have empty, graffiti-riddled slums and protests outside your office. Your able to customise your buildings with what their calling ‘Ploppables’. Detailed 3d buildings you can upgrade and extend the functionality of your city, everything from police stations, health clinics and college dorms can be upgraded dependent on your success.

Maxis really aren’t kidding when they say that this SimCity will deliver an unprecedented depth of simulation. This is also the most expansive city management game yet where you can control a region that delivers true multi-city scale and play a single city or up to 16 cities at once each with different specializations.

What are your thoughts on the latest instalment of SimCity? Will you be picking it up on day 1? I can’t wait to get my hands on this game and it’s no surprise that it’s picking up the most anticipated game of 2013 title.

Content courtesy of EA | Maxis

FIFA 13 Soundtrack

FIFA 13 Soundtrack

The soundtrack to the season

The FIFA soundtracks have become a very important and iconic part of the game. Your going to be spending a lot of time playing this game. Especially in the free roam arena when your trying to find  new ways to mug off that smug looking keeper who charges at you, any chance he gets. So the track list needs to be perfect and EA does a great job of showcasing some new talent whilst also providing an easy listening backdrop. When EA is shifting over 10 million copies of this game, I’m sure the artists are very happy to see there names on it. So here it is, complete with most of the YouTube links:

Demo will be available on the 11th of September…

Band Song
Animal Kingdom Get Away With It
Ashtar Command Mark IV feat. Joshua Radin
Astro Panda
Atlas Genius If So
Band Of Horses Feud
Bastille Weight Of Living, Part 2
Bloc Party We Are Not Good People
Cali Outta My Mind
Clement Marfo & The Frontline Us Against The World
Crystal Fighters Follow
deadmau5 feat. Gerard Way Professional Griefers
Django Django Hail Bop
Duologue Get Out While You Can
Elliphant  TeKKno Scene feat. Adam Kanyama
Featurecast Got That Fire (Oh La Ha) (feat. Pugs Atomz)
Fitz And The Tantrums Spark
Flo Rida feat. Lil Wayne Let It Roll, Part 2
Foreign Beggars & Bare Noise See The Light
Hadouken! Bliss Out
Imagine Dragons On Top Of The World
Jagwar Ma What Love
Kasabian Club Foot
Jonathan Boulet You’re A Animal
Kimbra Come Into My head
Kitten G#
Kraftklub Eure Madchen
Ladyhawke Black White & Blue
Madeon Finale
Matisyahu Searchin
Metric Speed The Collapse
Miike Snow Paddling Out
Passion Pit I’ll Be Alright
Reptar Sweet Sipping Soda
Reverend And The Makers Shine The Light
Rock Mafia Fly Or Die
The Royal Concept Goldrushed
Royal Teeth Wild
Santigold Big Mouth
St. Lucia September
Stepdad Jungles
The Chevin Champion
The Enemy Saturday
The Heavy Don’t Say Nothing
The Presets Ghosts
Two Door Cinema Club Sleep Alone
Walk The Moon Quesadilla
Wretch 32 Blur
Youngblood Hawke We Come Running
Young Empires Rain Of Gold
Zemaria Past 2


New free to play Command & Conquer Generals 2

New free to play Command & Conquer Generals 2

Today at Gamescom, EA announced a new, free to play Command & Conquer hitting your PC in 2013. Using the brilliant Frostbite 2 engine, EA will bring us a full, AAA strategy game for free. EA want their fans to access the entire Command & Conquer universe in one destination, starting with Generals and continuing with Red Alert, Tiberium and beyond.

“We are thrilled about this opportunity to transform Command & Conquer into a premier online experience,” said Jon Van Caneghem, VP/GM at EA. “For nearly two decades, this franchise has existed as something you buy; now we are creating a destination where our fans will be able to access the entire Command & Conquer universe, starting with Generals and continuing with Red Alert, Tiberium and beyond. With Frostbite 2, we are able to keep an emphasis on the AAA quality our consumers expect while staying true to the RTS gameplay they know and love – all available online for free.”

This is another indication that the industry is fast adopting the free to play model and weather we like it or not, the free to play model is only going to get bigger. You only need to look at the top grossing mobile games on iOS and Android to see that the free to play model is a real cash cow.

You can register for the closed beta now, here.


Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel announced

EA’s much maligned co-op shooter will return to home consoles in March 2013 with its third installment in the series. Billed as more of a reboot than a direct sequel, developer Visceral say they’re looking to “refresh the Army of Two franchise for a new generation”.

Long-time protagonists Salem & Rios have been dropped in favor of new boys Alpha & Bravo, a pair of ex-serviceman caught up in a brutal Mexican drug war.

Like the previous Army of Two entries, the two new leads will be mercenaries working for a private paramilitary firm.

EA & Visceral, who are currently hard at work on the similarly co-op friendly Dead Space 3, promise improved split-screen co-op & a refined customisation system.

“We wanted to refresh the Army of Two franchise for a new generation of action gamers, and at the same time, stay true to the core concept that really made the first two games fan favourites” comments Visceral’s executive producer Julian Beak.

“With meaningful, seamless co-op gameplay at its core and explosive new tag-team features, gamers will have to work together tactically and strategically as they push through a city dominated by one of Mexico’s deadliest drug cartels.”

Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel is set for release in the increasingly crowded month of March 2013 on PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360.

[Source: CVG]

Star Wars: The Old Republic drops below 1m subs – free-to-play option planned

After an inspiring first few months Bioware’s Star Wars MMORPG continues to struggle. Now publisher Electronic Arts have revealed the number of registered subscribers has dropped below 1 million, a new low for the game & for Bioware.

The new figures were revealed in a Bioware earnings call yesterday, which sees the Star Wars title drop far below the estimated 1.7 million gamers that subscribed on launch almost eight months ago. In steady fall in registered players seems to have been a gradual decline with EA revealing back in February that the number of players had fallen to just 1.3 million. Continue reading Star Wars: The Old Republic drops below 1m subs – free-to-play option planned