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Microsoft (Xbox) Price Cut Rumours?

Posted by g3tech on July 13, 2007

After Sony chopped $100 off the price of the PlayStation 3 over the weekend, numerous industry analysts are predicting Microsoft will make a similar move at its press conference later today. Expectations over just how much cheaper the Xbox 360 might become vary, but most commentators are predicting between a $50 and $100 drop across some or all of the Xbox retail packages.

Microsoft’s press conference kicks off at 8:30 PM PDT, so there isn’t too much longer to wait.

What you won’t see, though, are a few photos that were mysteriously removed from the page earlier today. Close-up pictures of the stage area during a rehearsal, they clearly showed four Xboxes arranged in a line: two white, one black (an Elite model) and one…grey? Could it be a new addition to the Xbox lineup: perhaps a new budget model, or the version with built-in internet TV functions that’s been discussed by Microsoft in the past? Maybe it’s just a trick of the light. We’ll find out all later on today — and we’ll have all the news here as soon as the conference wraps up.

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Games coming (or came out) out this summer

Posted by g3tech on July 9, 2007

Pokemon Battle Revolution (Wii) – June 25 – What can anyone say, it’s more Pokemon! (Pokemen, Pokepeople?) Whatever you want to call it, expect it to deliver tons of trainable creatures, not to mention cross-functionality with Pokemon Pearl and Diamond. Battle Revolution is also the first online multiplayer game enabled for the Wii, so you can finally display your Pokeprowess to players all over the globe.

Guitar Hero Encore (PS2) – July 17 – Summer is the perfect time for a makeover, so frost those tips, squeeze into skintight leather, and bring headbanging back into style with the latest entry in the acclaimed Guitar Hero franchise. A 30-song set list covers a wide assortment of 80s jams, from the obvious (Flock of Seagulls’ “I Ran (So Far Away)”), to the obnoxious (Poison’s “Nothin’ But A Good Time”), to the obscure (Eddie Money’s “Shakin'”). Whether you’re a scrappy punk, a New Wave artiste, or a Sunset Strip glam rocker, you’re bound to hit the right notes.

NCAA Football ’08 (PS3, Xbox 360, PS2, Xbox) – July 17 – Fans of college football might disagree with the archaic science behind the BCS rankings, quibble about conference strength, and argue over the best tasting Lite beer (Coors, clearly), but they can all agree on one thing —NCAA Football is THE gridiron game for them, bar none. Never content to keep the updates meager, the ’08 edition introduces a wealth of new plays, a reworked Campus Legend mode, and the ability to boost your team’s motivation by taking control of big plays. Best of all is an innovative real-time weather system piped in courtesy of the Weather Channel. Forecast calls for chance of awesome.

Mario Strikers: Charged (Wii) – July 30 – Okay, so it’s not Super Mario Galaxy, but at least it’s not another collection of mini-games, and that makes this sequel to the Gamecube game Super Mario Strikers an easy choice for fans of the fat mascot. Uncluttered by strict rules and overzealous refs, the game keeps its eye on the ball with a roaring pace and intuitive controls. Waggle the Wiimote to shake defenders, or take on the world with ranked and unranked online play. The Italian national team might be plagued with scandals, but Mario and the usual suspects offer good, clean summertime fun. Capisce?

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (PC) – August 1 – The bad news: Unlike the original Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, this follow-up is not available as a free download. The good news: Everything else. We’ve had our eye on Enemy Territory for a long time, but it looks like we’ll finally get our quivering hands on it this August. Set in the Quake universe, the game pits humans against the alien Stroggs in team-based multiplayer matches. With five distinct classes per side, the strategy well runs deep: construct giant weapons, gather recon, commandeer vehicles, or just blow stuff up. A new user-friendly objective system helps newbies find their footing, while the smooth, adaptable engine lets you focus on the combat instead of the system requirements. For hardcore fraggers, the near-future is bright.

Stranglehold (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) – August 6 – Based on director John Woo’s cult action film Hard Boiled, Stranglehold puts you in the scuffed loafers of Chow-Yun Fat’s flawed detective. Then, it makes you angry, gives you lots of guns and sets you loose in fully-destructible next-gen environments. The result? Riveting action gameplay. Case-sensitive controls let you flip around like a ballet dancer, pulling off classic moves like sliding down a banister while unloading a few rounds from your dual pistols, shattering glass, chipping wood, and hopefully making the bad guys lie down for a while. Sweet.

Madden ’08 (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, PSP, DS, PS2, Xbox, GC) – August 14 – After two relatively disappointing next-gen outings, things haven’t been entirely rosy for the pigskin juggernaut. But if the blazing framerate and cool new animations of Madden 08 are any indication, we’ll chalk that up to first-half jitters. One-handed catches, mid-air collisions, gang tackling, 24 special player abilities, and an updated Hit Stick help distance Madden 08 from its competition (namely, last year’s game). Vets will be thrilled at the long-awaited returns of Owner mode, fantasy drafting and customizable rosters. Opponents of the Tennessee Titans will also revel as they watch cover boy Vince Young succumb to the Madden Curse by twisting something important, but not before helping this year’s game go long. Touchdown, of course.

Lair (PS3) – August 14 – What’s this? An exclusive PS3 game? With dragons? Indeed, PS3 owners starving for software will find a reason to live again when Lair hits this summer. Two opposing factions vie for control of a dying planet, relying on fearsome dragons to wage war over land, sea and air. That’s seamless, by the way — you can fly around, swoop down to feast on some bad guys, hop off the dragon to get some exercise, and take off again without catching the slightest whiff of a loading screen. With gorgeous visuals, unique SIXAXIS control and a bevy of combat scenarios, Lair could be the spark that sets the PS3 fan base on fire.

Brain Age 2: More Training In Minutes A Day (DS) – August 20 – Q: What’s dumber than a bag of hammers? Answer: You! Unless, that is, you spent minutes a day getting schooled by the original Brain Age (and with over 8 million copies sold worldwide, you probably did.) But since you also stopped playing that months ago, your perky, youthful gray matter has likely reverted back to being mushy and stupid. Thanks to improved handwriting and voice recognition as well as a bunch of new games, Brain Age 2 will get those neurons back on track. You’d have to be an idiot to pass it up.

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii) – August 20 – Despite the Wii’s overwhelming success, many fans claim that Nintendo has neglected its hardcore following by focusing too much on family-friendly, casual fare, failing to do justice to the company’s beloved mascot roster. After spending the spring season reviewing 20 mini-game compilations, we wouldn’t argue with those fans either. So to call Metroid Prime 3 an anticipated Wii game is to blurt out an embarrassing understatement: This is THE Wii game of the season, if not the entire year. In addition to the interesting new control scheme, fans will delight in rediscovering the stackable beam system made popular in the old 2D Metroid games. With a batch of new visors and a heap of new abilities, Wii owners looking for their next purchase should stop, drop, and roll like a morph ball to their local retailer the moment Corruption hits shelves.

BioShock (PC, Xbox 360) – August 21 – One way to beat the summer heat is by diving into the cold, icy waters of this spiritual successor to cult PC hit System Shock 2. Set in Rapture, a mysterious city lost beneath miles of ocean, BioShock‘s bold Art Deco style and macabre atmosphere only scratch its horrific surface. A customizable ability system lets you solve puzzles and defeat enemies in a multitude of ways, allowing you to simultaneously wield weapons like Rambo and hack security like Neo. And you’ll need that kind of power when dealing with the creepy denizens of Rapture. Think you’ve seen it all? Then you haven’t witnessed the gruesome sight of a genetically modified child nibbling away at a corpse under the ever-watchful eye of the lumbering Big Daddy, a mute giant wearing a rusty old diving suit. If that doesn’t make you wet your pants, maybe the omnipresent threat of being crushed by a billion pounds of water will.

Medal of Honor: Airborne (PC, Xbox 360) – August 27 – Yep, but we swear this time it will be different. Forget forging down narrow streets as you crawl from one bombed-out locale to the next — Medal of Honor: Airborne reworks the formula from the ground up by letting you parachute down to any location on the map. That means a totally open-ended approach to each of the game’s enormous levels. Drop into a safe spot behind friendly lines, or be sneaky and land on the roof of an enemy bunker. Either way, you’ll relish the newfound freedom of fighting those pesky Nazis at your own pace.

Tiger Woods ’08 (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, PSP, DS, PS2, Xbox) – August 28 – Summer weather and golf go together like peanuts and M&Ms, but let’s face it — those green fees are pricey. For a fraction of that cost you can shoot nigh infinite rounds with the latest Tiger Woods game. In addition to the typical upgrades like new players and courses, Tiger Woods 08 introduces GamerNet, a broadband network that opens the door to player-driven content. Any shot you hit in the single-player game can be uploaded as a challenge for others to download. You can even tweak success criteria, much like calling a shot in a game of H-O-R-S-E: Hit the tree, bounce off the cart path, over the sand trap and on to the green… and into your game library.

Stuntman: Ignition (PS3, Xbox 360, PS2) – August 28 – You have to hand it to the minds behind Stuntman. While the rest of the industry is constantly worried about sending the wrong message to concerned watchdog groups, here’s a game that lets you plow into incoming traffic, barge across intersections, sideswipe innocent cars and smash government property simply to earn a perfectly legal living. It won’t be easy, though. The last Stuntman game was ruthlessly difficult, and unless those time constraints have been relaxed a lot, this one could prove to be similarly stressful.

Blue Dragon (Xbox 360) – August 28 – Developed by an All-Star team of Japanese designers that includes legendary Final Fantasy mastermind Hironobu Sakaguchi, Blue Dragon is a shoo-in for 360 owners yearning for a spiky-haired savior. The hook here is found in the gigantic shadow creatures over which you have total power, leading to plenty of meat-and-potatoes turn-based combat in a massive fantasy world. And by massive, we mean it spans a whopping three DVDs. It’s also currently the best-selling 360 game in Japan, and those folks know their role-playing games. Soon, so will you.

Posted in Computers, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, Games, Gaming, Guitar Hero, Mario Strikers: Charged, Microsoft, NCAA Football ‘08, Nintendo, PC, Pokemon Battle Revolution, Sony, Technology, Xbox | Leave a Comment »

Microsoft lengthens the Xbox 360’s warranty

Posted by g3tech on July 6, 2007

No longer content adhering to the adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Microsoft on Thursday announced that it will extend its Xbox 360 warranty coverage to three years from date of purchase. The warranty covers any consumer who experiences the general system failure indicated by three flashing red lights, more commonly referred to as the “red ring of death.” Both shipping and repair costs will be covered.

The new warranty will represent a $1 billion pre-tax charge on Microsoft’s earnings for the year’s final quarter. This marks a notable setback for the company’s Entertainment & Devices division, who reported a $315 million operating loss in the third quarter.

“The majority of Xbox 360 owners are having a great experience with their console and have from day one. But, this problem has caused frustration for some of our customers and for that, we sincerely apologize,” said Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s Entertainment & Devices Division.

The warranty also retroactively reimburses the small but vocal community of console owners who have already paid to get the error fixed. Though the company has not revealed the cause behind the hardware malfunctions, it claims to have “identified a number of factors which can cause general hardware failures” and “has made improvements to the console.”

The announcement is intended to soothe the tide of disgruntled gamers who have experienced the failure, many of whom have meticulously documented numerous failed attempts at getting it repaired. In a conference call, Bach acknowledged an increase in the amount of attention the issue has been receiving. Although he didn’t mention a specific number of problems, he called the rate of repair requests “too high for our liking.”

Peter Moore, corporate VP of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices division, has posted an open letter on the official Xbox site further explaining the decision.

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