Monthly Archives: June 2013

xbox-one-float-1024x546

Welcome to the games!  Microsoft held true to their promise and delivered quite a few exclusives and other exciting titles.  Lots of shooting and explosions, but this is what we have come to expect.  Here is a rundown of everything shown today.

The show started off with Metal Gear Solid: Phantom Pain.  It looked good, but there was some of their standard silliness.  Namely, calling leaning over in the saddle “A New Breed of Stealth.”  If I looked over and saw a saddled horse with a person’s leg hanging over, I would have no trouble realizing that there was a person there.

Next, there were a couple of 360 announcements.  As of today, there is a smaller console available that is styled more like the Xbox One.  Nice!

360 2013

In addition, Live Gold members with start receiving two free game downloads per month, the first two being Assassin’s Creed 2 and Halo 3.  This will be a nice benefit to had to the gold service, providing the price doesn’t increase.  Again.

Fans of World of Tanks, and probably a lot of other people, will be glad to see this popular free-to-play title get an Xbox 360 Edition.   It’s good to see that it will remain free for Gold members!

And now begins the main event, the Xbox One gaming presentation.  ‘Max: Curse of Brotherhood,’ ‘Dark Souls 2,’ ‘Ryse: Soldier of Rome,’ ‘Killer Instinct’ and ‘Sunset Drive.’

Forza 5 shows off a bit of their new “Drivetar” cloud technology.  Your personal Drivetar learns how you drive and, in time, will drive the same way that you do, to race in offline games.  I’m not sure why you would want the game to play for you, but hey, it’s available.

Xbox One is getting it’s own version of Minecraft.  I still haven’t played the PC or 360 versions, but the trailer tells me that it is very popular!  ‘Quantum Break’ and ‘D4’ are also shown.

This next bit was one of the more exciting and interesting parts of the presentation.  Project Spark is a game building title that seems to be very intuitive when it comes to populating your world and programming behaviors into your creations.  There is heavy SmartGlass integration, which will be nice for designing.  I can see this becoming huge!

Ryse makes a return to show off how SmartGlass can be used by developers to enrich your gaming experience.

Killer Instinct is being used to show off the Upload Studio and Twitch apps.  Upload Studio allows you to edit and share your clips from the game DVR function.  Twitch allows live streaming of your game.  Very cool tech and software has been built into the Xbox One.  I may never personally use those apps, but I absolutely love the idea.

There were a couple of news bits here about Microsoft points being dropped in favor of real currency and the Live Gold sharing.  I am a big fan of being able to use the show’s account or my guest accounts as an authorized user on my Xbox.  Hopefully this is a function of Live and not exclusive to the Xbox One.

The people behind Panzer Dragoon and Phantom Dust bring you Crimson Dragon, a flight-based shooter.  I was never a fan, but I know the Panzer game had a huge following.

‘Dead Rising 3’ looks great and also has SmartGlass integration.  The feature shown was using SmartGlass to call in an air strike on a particularly heavily populated area.

‘Witcher 3’ goes open world and non-linear.  This should make for an even better gameplay experience.  The video was pretty exciting.

The crowd at the briefing and the people following on Twitter got really excited about ‘Battlefield 4’ and for good reason.  The gameplay footage looked great!

‘Below’ seems to be mostly a top down adventure title.  “It looks very Indie.”

There was a short bit of in-engine footage from an unnamed title, but there wasn’t much excitement there.  Then came the Halo.  People seem to like the Halo.  I can’t come up with a single reason to wear a ratty cloak over your armor, but people like the Halo.  Halo at 60fps and with some sort of cloud processing.

Price reveal!  $499.99!   Daaaaang!  Seems a little high, but then I have not been anticipating a day one purchase.  But if you are ready to jump in, use this link.  This is for the Day One Console, which includes “a limited edition controller, token code to unlock Day One achievement, premium packaging, and decal.”

To wrap up the show, Respawn shows off their exclusive title Titanfall with some multi-player footage.  Titanfall is a war title with a blend of infantry and player-controlled mechs in urban combat.  It is visually stunning and the multi-player almost seemed like campaign footage.  People must have been on their best behavior that day!

So, what did everyone think of the presentation?  Chime in below!

Straight from the mouth of MS comes answers to the questions we’ve had about privacy, connectivity and licensing!  I’m digging the answers – especially the ability to play any of my games on any Xbox One. Very cool!  You can access all of the information from Microsoft’s news page, and I have cut and pasted the three articles below.  What do you all think?

Connectivity:

Xbox One will deliver new benefits for gamers that are only possible with a system designed from the ground up to be ready and connected.  Here are just a few examples:

  • A new generation of games with power from the cloud: Because every Xbox One owner has a broadband connection, developers can create massive, persistent worlds that evolve even when you’re not playing.

  • Your Xbox One is always ready: Xbox One is designed to run in a low-powered, connected state. This means your system, games and apps are always current and ready to play—no more waiting for updates.
  • Stay connected to your friends: Never miss an opportunity to play games with your friends or to catch up with family on Skype. Use Skype in Snap mode to chat while you play games or watch TV.  Or enjoy group video Skype calls with people around the world, all from the comfort of your living room.
  • Access your entire games library from any Xbox One—no discs required: After signing in and installing, you can play any of your games from any Xbox One because a digital copy of your game is stored on your console and in the cloud.  So, for example, while you are logged in at your friend’s house, you can play your games.
  • Buy the way you want—disc or digital—on the same day: You’ll be able to buy disc-based games at traditional retailers or online through Xbox Live, on day of release.

 

Networking Technologies

A range of advanced technologies will make these scenarios possible, including:

  • Superior wireless performance and coverage throughout the home: Xbox One is equipped with a gigabit Ethernet port and 802.11n wireless. With 802.11n, Xbox One can use the 5GHz wireless band which eliminates considerable interference from other devices in the home, such as cordless phones, Bluetooth devices and microwaves.  Xbox One uses two wireless antennas, versus one in Xbox 360. This provides dramatically better coverage and sustained performance, which means faster internet speeds in more areas of your home.

  • Faster connection to a world of smart devices: With Wi-Fi Direct, Xbox One can speak directly to smart wireless devices and connect to them through the cloud. This means your smartphone or tablet will interact with Xbox One seamlessly.

  • Future proofed with power from the cloud: Microsoft has created a global network of more than 300,000 Xbox Live and Windows Azure servers, to help creators realize their visions of what is possible with a connected system.

 

Networking Requirements

To ensure Xbox One works optimally and can offer the experiences described above, it is designed with the following networking requirements:

  • For an optimal experience, we recommend a broadband connection of 1.5Mbps. (For reference, the average global internet connection speed as measured recently by Akamai was 2.9 Mbps).  In areas where an Ethernet connection is not available, you can connect using mobile broadband.
  • While a persistent connection is not required, Xbox One is designed to verify if system, application or game updates are needed and to see if you have acquired new games, or resold, traded in, or given your game to a friend. Games that are designed to take advantage of the cloud may require a connection.

With Xbox One you can game offline for up to 24 hours on your primary console, or one hour if you are logged on to a separate console accessing your library. Offline gaming is not possible after these prescribed times until you re-establish a connection, but you can still watch live TV and enjoy Blu-ray and DVD movies.

At Xbox, we’ve always believed in a connected world of games and entertainment.  With Xbox One, we are planning for a connected future.  We can’t wait to show you what’s to come

Privacy

Xbox One and Kinect offer easy and approachable ways to control your games and entertainment with your voice and gestures. By recognizing you, Xbox One can tailor personal experiences and customize content just for you.

At Microsoft, we prioritize your privacy. We understand that your personal data and privacy are important. Xbox One and Kinect will provide tools to put you in control of your data.  These include:

  • You are in control of what Kinect can see and hear: By design, you will determine how responsive and personalized your Xbox One is to you and your family during setup. The system will navigate you through key privacy options, like automatic or manual sign in, privacy settings, and clear notifications about how data is used. When Xbox One is on and you’re simply having a conversation in your living room, your conversation is not being recorded or uploaded.
  • You are in control of when Kinect sensing is On, Off or Paused: If you don’t want the Kinect sensor on while playing games or enjoying your entertainment, you can pause Kinect. To turn off your Xbox One, just say “Xbox Off.” When the system is off, it’s only listening for the single voice command — “Xbox On,” and you can even turn that feature off too. Some apps and games may require Kinect functionality to operate, so you’ll need to turn it back on for these experiences.
  • You are in control of your personal data: You can play games or enjoy applications that use data, such as videos, photos, facial expressions, heart rate and more, but this data will not leave your Xbox One without your explicit permission. Here are a few examples of potential future scenarios:
    • A fitness game could measure heart rate data to provide you with improved feedback on your workout, allow you to track your progress, or even measure calories burned.
    • A card game could allow you to bluff your virtual opponent using your facial expressions.
  • You can use other inputs to control your games, TV and entertainment experiences: While it’s faster to find what you’re looking for using your voice and gesture commands with Kinect, you can use a controller, your remote controls or your smart devices instead. And you can use all of these devices when Kinect is paused.

We’ll have more information available as we get closer to product availability later this year.

Game Licensing

With our modern architecture, Xbox One games will load more quickly, will be always accessible from the cloud, and there is no physical limit to the size or scope of the content provided.

Here are our platform policies and capabilities for game licensing – all of which will be made available when Xbox One launches later this year:

  • Buy the way you want—disc or digital—on the same day: You’ll be able to buy disc-based games at traditional retailers or online through Xbox Live, on day of release. Discs will continue to be a great way to install your games quickly.
  • Access your entire games library from any Xbox One—no discs required: After signing in and installing, you can play any of your games from any Xbox One because a digital copy of your game is stored on your console and in the cloud.  So, for example, while you are logged in at your friend’s house, you can play your games.
  • Share access to your games with everyone inside your home: Your friends and family, your guests and acquaintances get unlimited access to all of your games.  Anyone can play your games on your console–regardless of whether you are logged in or their relationship to you.
  • Give your family access to your entire games library anytime, anywhere: Xbox One will enable new forms of access for families. Up to ten members of your family can log in and play from your shared games library on any Xbox One. Just like today, a family member can play your copy of Forza Motorsport at a friend’s house. Only now, they will see not just Forza, but all of your shared games.  You can always play your games, and any one of your family members can be playing from your shared library at a given time.
  • Trade-in and resell your disc-based games: Today, some gamers choose to sell their old disc-based games back for cash and credit. We designed Xbox One so game publishers can enable you to trade in your games at participating retailers.  Microsoft does not charge a platform fee to retailers, publishers, or consumers for enabling transfer of these games.
  • Give your games to friends: Xbox One is designed so game publishers can enable you to give your disc-based games to your friends. There are no fees charged as part of these transfers. There are two requirements: you can only give them to people who have been on your friends list for at least 30 days and each game can only be given once.

In our role as a game publisher, Microsoft Studios will enable you to give your games to friends or trade in your Xbox One games at participating retailers. Third party publishers may opt in or out of supporting game resale and may set up business terms or transfer fees with retailers.  Microsoft does not receive any compensation as part of this. In addition, third party publishers can enable you to give games to friends. Loaning or renting games won’t be available at launch, but we are exploring the possibilities with our partners.

As we move into this new generation of games and entertainment, from time to time, Microsoft may change its policies, terms, products and services to reflect modifications and improvements to our services, feedback from customers and our business partners or changes in our business priorities and business models or for other reasons.  We may also cease to offer certain services or products for similar reasons.

In the months ahead, we will continue to listen to your feedback as we meet with our partners in the ecosystem to bring additional detail about our policies.

We are excited about this new generation of games and entertainment and look forward to sharing more news with our fans.

Star-Trek-Into-Darkness-star-trek-into-darkness-33724303-1600-900

Have you ever seen ‘Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan’?  While it would provide you with some interesting comparisons with ‘Into Darkness’, it is completely unnecessary for you to be able to enjoy this movie.  As much as I enjoyed the first entry into the alternative timeline Treks, this one is better.  The “See how close we were able to get the characters” feel of the first movie was great, but this one focuses solely on story and action.  It is great sci-fi and it gives me a lot of hope knowing that J.J. Abrams will be helming at least some of the new ‘Star Wars’ movies.  It has great pacing and is a wonderful way to spend a few cool, dark hours during the hot Summer movie season.  Benedict Cumberbatch is very convincing in the role of the main antagonist.  He is both sympathetic and menacing, giving the audience a clear sense of motivation and purpose.  The crew of the Enterprise is every bit as good as in the first movie and the signature humor is consistent throughout.  This is an easy recommendation for any Summer blockbuster viewer.  Absolutely catch this in the theater while it is still showing!  And if you have seen ‘Khan,’ pay close attention to the parallels and differences to the story.  It’s very entertaining!

 

Ticket price: $9.00 matinee (courtesy of MoviePass)

Trailers: Despicable Me 2, Man of Steel, Elysium, Interns, Anchorman 2, World War Z

 

 

man-of-steel-theme

 

I have a long history with the Superman character.  It was one of my first comic books that I had ever read and spoke most directly to me.  The all-powerful being that chooses to protect, rather than to rule.  It’s how I like to think that I would be, if I had those abilities.  I am such a fan of Superman that I even watched all but one season of ‘Smallville!’  Thankfully, ‘Man of Steel’ succeeds where ‘Smallville’ continuously failed.  I was stuck on the far side of the front row, wearing 3D glasses with my neck craned awkwardly and I still can’t imagine this not being the best movie that I will see this year.

There are a number of things that the movie does well that I can talk about without spoiling anything for you, so I will stick to talking about those subjects.  ‘Man of Steel’ is more sci-fi than a superhero movie.  This was absolutely the right way to go with the origin story film.  There is quite a bit of Krypton and related lore.  It is presented, like Kal-El’s childhood, through time shifts and flashbacks.  Those shifts are never overly-lengthy, but serve to move the story along.  The viewer gets a good sense of who each character is without any heavy-handed dialog.  You get what you need and then the story goes on about it’s business.  The action sequences are well done and are evenly distributed throughout the movie, which is perfect, because the 3D can be a little overwhelming.  That may have been because I was ten feet from the screen, but I imagine that it would be a lot from any angle.  Also, there is no crystal that creates a fancy palace, nor is there any mention of kryptonite.  That made me very happy.  This is the story of an alien to this planet, finding his way on a new world and protecting those he loves.   And it’s good.  Really good.

 

Ticket price: Free screening

Trailers: Gravity, World War Z

 

fast6

 

 

Dom and crew are lured out of retirement by Hobbs to stop a military-grade racing crew (?) from building a super cyber weapon.  The bait?  The possibility that Letty isn’t dead, but running with this crew.  Oh, and full pardons, of course, so that they can be back in the states for Fast 7.  The military crew proves to be quite a match for our heroes and car chases/explosions ensue.

While watching Fast & Furious 6, one of the first things that I wondered was whether or not I had seen all of the previous movies in the series.  I don’t actually think that it matters.  Actually, I would advise against thinking too much during Fast & Furious 6.  There are plot holes, big enough to drive a tank into, and many of them at that.  The dialog is passable for this type of movie, but there were five or six times that a focus line would take me out of the fun of the movie.  And it is fun.  The fight choreography is really enjoyable, most notably the fights between Gina Carano and Michelle Rodriguez.  So, if you like girl fights, cars, racing, explosions and spear guns with high-tensile alloy cables, then you will have a blast.  Enjoy it.  Love it.  Just let this happen.

Seriously, what was the deal with all of the spear guns?

 

Ticket Price: $9.00 Matinee (courtesy of MoviePass)

Trailers: Now You See Me, World War Z, White House Down, The Wolverine, Man of Steel, 2 Guns, R.I.P.D.