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Tons of New Halo 3 News found Via hacking the Beta's code....thank god for tech geeks

There's a lot of great stuff that has been revealed about Halo 3...hopefully it's all true. The most important of course is the fact that the Energy Sword is back, it's tweaked and weakened, but it is back. How is it tweaked and weakened you ask? Well, it has a battery, and there's a delay (as you can see below) when you switch weapons.

This next one isn't surprising...the Wraith is in Halo 3! but this isn't your old Halo 2 wraith as it now has a second spot for a machine gunner to protect you from're definitely going to get some hop-ons.

Finally, the magnum returns...the Halo 1 magnum that is and it looks to pack a mean punch but a small clip.

3 new maps have also been discovered and detailed (from an upcoming Gamepro article) along with a new piece of equipment: Radar Jammer and a new vehicle: The Brute Chopper. The 3 Map details follow:

Shrine: A UNSC battle cruiser looms menacingly over Shrine's sprawling sand dunes. Shrine is the largest map ever to appear in a Halo game, so Bungie put a key emphasis on vehicle-on-vehicle combat. Shrine has few ties to older Halo 2 maps, but its massive size recalls Relic.
Epitaph: Epitaph is an arcane Forerunner cathedral-like structure that towers above the surrounding wasteland. The central killing floor is crisscrossed with elevated walkways, exterior hallways, and lifts. It's a spiritual successor to Halo 2 maps like Colossus, Gemini, and Midship.
Last Resort: Zanzibar, one of Halo 2's most beloved maps, has been rebuilt and rechristened Last Resort for Halo 3. This industrial site is almost twice as big, with a less cluttered internal layout and more paths into the flag room.

Now breathe and get ready to wait 4 months.

Halo 3 Beta Update: ranked BTB, Double Team Training

Bungie has changed the playlists for the Beta and has made available a ranked Big Team Battle and a Double Team Training playlist. Nothing revolutionary here since both playlists were present in Halo 2, but word is that the pistol (sans scope?) can also be spotted in some of these all we need is the plasma sword.

Worms Free Downloadable Content (DLC) Today

As is the case with every Microsoft content release nowadays, with free content comes paid for content. Team 17 has released 3 new levels/backgrounds (space, hell, and jungle) of which only space is free. You'll be able to pick up the others for 150 MS points. You'll also be able to grab the new sound pack for free which offers a lot more voices to choose from. There's some other gamer picture stuff etc. that costs some points, but who really cares about all that stuff? Also I was right about Mad Tracks; that's out today.

This XBOX LIVE Wednesday...Mad Tracks?

On, Mad Tracks has appeared on the Live Arcade games page. Mad Tracks looks to be a fast and arcadey racer with pretty decent graphics. By going to their website I found a May 15th post saying: "Mad Tracks XBLA has passed final Xbox certification and is good to go. Microsoft, D3P and Load Inc. are still adjusting a release date. Thanks for everyone's patience; the wait is soon over :-)I can't wait to get my hands dirty in those 84 leaderboards!!!"

I am going to say with quite a bit of confidence that Mad Tracks is going to be released this upcoming Wednesday for Live Arcade. This one came out of the blue for me, but it looks pretty good. I'm going to download the PC version and give it a go. Have a great memorial day weekend.

What are the next big games out there? Here are the 5 games to watch...

Now obviously I could include Halo 3 in this list, but everyone is already watching out for that or playing the Beta as we speak, plus everyone knows it'll sell millions of copies. I'm going to leave out GTA IV as well since again, it's already a guaranteed hit so I'm going to leave some big titles out in order to delve into some others. I probably should leave all sequels but every sequel I include will have some factor why it may not be a "guaranteed" hit despite that it will surely be a great game.

1. Metal Gear Solid 4 (ps3)
This guy is going to be amazing looking and will absolutely showcase the PS3's power. The big question is will anyone have a PS3 to enjoy it. Sony is surely hoping that MGS4 sells some PS3s but the title is rumored to come out sometime after Xmas in 2008. That delay is not going to help sell PS3s, plus there's a rumor (which is gathering steam) that it's being developed for Xbox 360 as well. Metal Gear is a great franchise and I'm glad Kojima is not rushing it, but it has got to be pissing Sony off that this game is taking so long.

2. Assassin's Creed (xbox 360 / ps3)
This game looks incredible, plus it looks to have some cool new game mechanics / stealth elements(crowd pushing/pick pocketing, etc). The fighting (the worst part of Prince of Persia) seems to be vastly improved as well and actually looks...dare I say the whole concept is cool. Sneak up and kill your target and then escape by running, jumping and bounding around ancient cities. Sick.

3. Super Smash Bros Brawl (Wii)
In the spirit of covering several different consoles, I think this is the best pick as a game to watch because expectations are really high. If Brawl goes all Wii-mote on people, the hardcore smash fans will be really upset...and that's probably an understatement. If it is not broke don't fix it.

4. Band of Bugs (XBOX LIVE ARCADE)
Hopefully this game will be the first to be released on this list. It has been in the works for awhile and was previewed as a coming Spring 07 release along with Catan, Eets, and all the other games that have recently come out. I'm sure it will be worth the wait though since this game will feature a complete campaign mode, intense strategic multiplayer battles, a level editor, and a cool new celshaded look. The only questoin is when? Hopefully next Wednesday.

5. Mass Effect (XBOX 360)
I tried to look at PSP, DS, etc for something but mentioning the DS Zelda, or next big Nintendo sequel didn't seem right. There's a ton of stuff coming late summer and fall (Mercenaries 2, Too Human, Bioshock, Dirt) but I felt Mass Effect was the best choice. My guess is that Mass Effect will overshadow the incredibly popular (in Japan) Blue Dragon due to its more Western friendly action/RPG feel. Plus it is a Bioware release, looks gorgeous and has tremendous freedom.

so there's my 5 games for now (though I cheated and mentioned a lot more). Only time will tell how good these games actually end up being.

Retro Garbage for Xbox Live Arcade Wednesdays

Perhaps garbage is a strong word, but I have not ever heard of either of these games: Xevious & Rush N Attack. Considering that nearly every retro release so far has been a staple of the 80s arcades or early home consoles, I am surprised that with two classic releases I have heard of neither. Needless to say I haven't played either of them, but judging from the screens I don't really feel the need to. Let's break them down:

Rush N Attack looks somewhat decent and is a sidescrolling action game. The thing is there are only 4 stages! I've played plenty of sidescrollers in my day and this looks like an arcade adaptation of Konami's popular Metal Gear series. It's not like this is Final Fight or Metal Slug, why should I care? The redone graphics look nice and maybe if you've heard or played this game you can shed some light on it for me and let me know if it is any good.

Xevious is the big dud this week with Graphics so bad, you'll wonder why people ever played videogames. It's a typical vertical scrolling shooter that is surely very difficult and frustrating. Why any one would pay $5 to play this game when they could play a free sidescrolling shooter (Aegis Wing) is beyond me. Add to that Aegis Wing's vastly better graphics and co-op play and you have a real mind bender on your hands. Perhaps Nostalgia wins out way more than I am aware of with this retro releases.

At least I still have CATAN on Live Arcade. I'll just boot that up instead of buying either of these oldies. Thanks but no thanks.

The Halo Skill is back!..coming back

So over the weekend, the new Halo 3 control scheme has become more familiar and my skill is quickly returning. It hit me after THIS match on Valhalla: 24 kills / 6 deaths - that's what I'm talking about! Lucky for me, the Battle Rifle has not been changed much from Halo 2. I do not get the Spartan Laser at all! I have only managed to blast some vehicles with it. Perhaps I should try it some more, but I find it easy to evade (has a warning laser after all) and too long to charge. I think it's for players who are into snipers and all that...not for me. I'm OK with a sniper, but really triumph with that good ole BR in my hand. The BR / Assault Rifle combo really makes you feel all warm inside and gives you the ability to be a formidable adversary in nearly any situation. Sadly, I will have to reduce my Halo 3 playing somewhat this week so that I can get some things done on the games we have in development. In closing, the Beta is really polished. I have experienced no real bugs other than some laggy play and/or long wait times for matchmaking (maybe they just felt long). The wait for Halo 3 needs to be over because the 3 maps are just not enough. It's really time to reserve that copy today.

Starcraft 2 is coming! and here's a trailer

I'm not a big Starcraft fan, but liked the first alright. It will be an easy wait for me, but I am sure a lot of people out there would be really amped to see the screenshots and video, so here it is:

The worst thing about the Halo 3 Beta

Besides that it will end in June, the worst thing about the Beta is that my Halo ability has vastly deteriorated. At my best, I was ranked a 33 in Halo 2. Granted there are higher ranks, but since I played independently in Team Slayer without a team, I think it's pretty good. Well, I suck now. Even taking into account that I don't know the maps, I'm just not where I used to be. Perhaps it is the new control scheme, or the switch from an Xbox controller to an Xbox 360 controller (my Halo 2 playing suffered during that transition), but I am not nearly as good. I've only logged 8 hours or so on the Beta, and I have seen vast improvements. I guess it just takes time, but all the Gears of War, and Rainbow Six playing has taken me away from the run and gun mentality in Halo 3. It's like riding a bike though, and there are moments when stuff just starts clicking and you're unstoppable. My best spree (8) was the last match I played on Snowbound. I'm getting away from the point of this post which is to say that the worst thing about the Beta is getting pwned when you shouldn't. This doesn't really detract from the fun of the game, but it does make you yell out and call yourself an idiot. I mean c'mon! What was I thinking going up against a Spartan Laser with a Battle Rifle!...oh right the laser wasn't in Halo 2. My Bad.

5 Things I think about the Halo 3 Beta after my initial play session

1. Halo 3 is going to be a damn good game- I think the graphics are a huge improvement over Halo 2 and Yes, it doesn't look like Gears of War, but it's only a Beta and there is a lot more going on in a bigger area.

2. That using RB to pick up weapons and reload is going to take quite awhile to get used to. I have had a couple stumbles by pressing X....most of this revolved around dropping the powerdrain equipment onto myself.

3. Equipment is a genius idea that makes combat all the more dynamic. This morning I stormed into a battle against 3 enemies who were ganging up on one of my own mates. My teammate severely damaged 2 and I was able to finish 1 off quickly before the other 2 turned on me. Luckily, I had a bubble shield, killed 1 of the 2 and then dropped it...thus saving my life. The final opponent chucked all his grenades at me to no avail and just as he entered my shield, I left him a brute grenade and backed away- BANG a 3-1 team slayer point exchange. Equipment is great! I only hope there's more.

4. If the plasma sword does not return, I will be severely disappointed. Shotguns are good and all, but I loved the dynamic of having a shotgun and fighting a sword. The pistol is also missing, but I am pretty sure that will be in the game, so I only hope that the sword will make it as well.

5. Matchmaking is still the best damn way to play an online game and it's only better in this game. It makes searching for ranked matches in other multiplayer games all the more annoying and will make it extremely hard to revert back to come June 10th (oh yeah did I mention they extended the beta timeframe as a result of the Crackdown delay...thank you Bungie!).

Crackdown fails to bring the Halo

maybe fails is harsh, but the Beta is delayed if you are trying to get to it from Crackdown. Hopefully, it won't be anything that takes all the long. Bungie is aware of the problem and noted that hopefully it will be only a short delay. Sucks for the people who took work off to play some Halo. I just hope they fix it before I get home ready to play.

Halo 3 Beta went Live 8am EST...and the full game is coming in September!

Today is the big day for all of us commoners that couldn't play the Beta this weekend. The Halo 3 Beta is out, no surprises yet. However, one other announcement was made today all the more Halo-tastic. Halo 3 is being released Tuesday September 25th...are you surprised? If you are a Halo fan or have been following this blog, you shouldn't be. I posted about this not so secret surprise announcement of Halo 3 coming in September before the Beta release was even confirmed. Don't believe me? Check it out for yourself here. Microsoft is definitely a marketing juggernaut and with Sony reporting it's largest quarterly lost in 4 years, it makes you wonder if the next gen war is already over. Where's Metal Gear Solid 4, Killzone 2, etc. Sony? If Sony doesn't bring something big to E3 this summer, they are in for a hurting. I think a pricedrop or a bundle (Sonic 2 and Sega Genesis anyone?) would be real nice and help them out a lot...that would mean more PS3's and Blu-ray players out there, but Sony hasn't listened to me so far, and I don't expect that to change. Anyway
Happy Halo Day! If the Beta isn't enough for you, knowing that the wait for the full game has been shortened by 2 months is certainly something that Halo fans should be happy about. Yes, Mid-June to Late September will be a long and painful time, but I have a feeling some big Microsoft Studio releases (Blue Dragon, Mass Effect) may release in that interim. Can anyone not applaud Microsoft's Crackdown Strategy? Not only were sales boosted because of the Halo 3 Beta, but now that most of us will be logging back into Crackdown to download the Beta, there's new Crackdown content to download for free (and some for $$$). I'll admit that I played Crackdown a lot this weekend. Microsoft may not have the best operating system around, but you have to admit that their damn good at marketing. Maybe it's the competition with Apple, I mean can Nintendo's and Sony's ads and commercials really compare to Apple's? Microsoft has been playing on marketing varsity while Sony and Nintendo were enjoying playing a neck and neck JV game. With the (not so surprising) Announcement of Halo 3 in September, Microsoft has shown foresight. Halo 3 Beta is polished and fun....real fun...and people are going to be talking about it for the next 3 weeks. Then it comes out in September...surely boosting the sales of the Xbox 360. Then the holiday season comes and everyone who didn't have an Xbox or Halo yet wants one and asks for one because that's what all their friends are playing. Checkmate Sony.

Soltrio Solitaire Coming this Wednesday

Yawn! we're getting Solitaire this wednesday for Xbox Live Arcade. So that's not thrilling news, but perhaps a free Live title will sweeten the deal. Aegis Wing is a student shmup game (3 MS interns made it over a summer) that is to be released free to Xbox Live Arcade for a limited time only. Either way I'll be spending my time on Catan or the Halo 3 Beta. Freebies are usually worth a download though.

Halo 3 Beta Fest

Halo 3 Beta is out to Friends and Families and is coming May 16th. Prepare yourself with all the videos below (the equipment video is especially good).



High Ground:



Crackdown Downloadable Content is sort of Free...and sort of costs

Free Downloadable Content
Keys to the City: The ultimate Cheat Mode! Enter this mirror of the main Campaign for a clean-slate game that can be fully exploited and customized for a single play session. (Note: Achievements and leaderboards will be disabled in this mode)
Build a pile of 100 explosive drums at the top of the Agency Towwer -- then let rip!
Spawn a ramp truck anywhere and it'll stay there
Create an agency vehicle or one of the new Peacekeeper vehicles any time, any place
Players can set character skills however they want them, or just activate the accelerated skill leveling feature (Crackdown demo anyone?)
Check out Super Agent Agility to jump ridiculous distances, swim faster than a torpedo and sprint faster than a speeding bullet (almost)
Try the Super Agent Strength to toss a truck with deadly accuracy further than ever dreamt. Boot enemies into the stratosphere!
Get the most out of the exciting selection of new weaponry by activating infinite ammo. Max out the selection at each supply point too!
Do all of this without skipping a beat of the action -- the pop-up cheat menu is always available during play without pausing the game
Vehicle Impounding: The Agency Garage has been given an overhaul; this was partly to accommodate the brand new Peacekeeper Vehicles, but also to allow Agents to impound their favorites so that they're always available&in their preferred color.
Impounding is simple: commandeer the vehicle and return it to the garage
Vehicles that aren't yet impounded are displayed as feint images, so players can see at a glance what's missing from their collection
The 'Confiscator' achievement awaits those who simply had to catch 'em all
Co-op Trophy sequences: A trophy emblazoned with my gamertag displayed for me and my opponent every time I win at the existing mini-games? Yes please!
Psychotic Mission Trials
A record is now kept of Time Trials completed at 'Psychotic' difficulty
Scoring the maximum 21/21 isn't just the ultimate challenge that every true Agent of Justice should have the stones to take on, but it's also the only way to unlock the highly coveted "Psych Out" Achievement
Premium Downloadable Content New Vehicles:
Agency Patrol Buggy:
Double wishbone suspension absorbs the bumps in spectacular fashion
Rides over anything - even when scaling near vertical surfaces
Insane air control
Roof mounted, independently aiming mini-gun activated with either "B" or "Left Bumper"
Agency Pursuit Vehicle:
Ridiculously powerful mono-cockpit race car
Acceleration that blows away everything else in the city
Incredible grip and top speed
Those road race leaderboard times are set to tumble!
Agency Armored Vehicle:
Like the Agency Truck, the AV can smash through barricades with ease
Tank like in design, occupants are completely protected from assault
Surprisingly fast and agile for its size
Rockets fired from independently aiming main turret with either "B" or "Left Bumper"
Street Racing: Pacific City is finally free from crime. Agency activity is once again concealed behind closed doors. The remaining peacekeepers, having very little to do, quickly grew restless. To satisfy their lingering lust for danger, high risk Street Racing tournaments have been established across the city.
Compete in 6 different on and off road races across the city
6 radically different vehicle options per circuit
Race against up to 11 other 'do or die' opponents, including another player over XBL
Compare fastest race times as well as race wins for that session with your co-op "buddy"
Players can post their fastest time per circuit to the online leaderboards
Take advantage of the world of Crackdown to win by any means necessary: create road blocks, hit gas tanks, or simply slam opponents into submission
New Equipment MSK Lobber
Mini rockets are thrown out from the rotating muzzle section before their boosters ignite and swarm towards their target.
The homing mini-rockets are incredibly agile making this the ultimate fire-and-forget weapon
EX1 'Proximity Charge'
Similar to the standard issue "Limpet Charge," these can be attached to any surface.
A visible local field is generated when the charge is set. Enemy penetration of this field will result in detonation.
In a bid to reduce the extensive civilian casualties lying in the wake of any crime fighting Agent, intelligent threat-sensing technology prevents the charge from detonating when a firearm is not detected
Unfortunately the technology isn't quite intelligent enough to prevent detonation due to field penetration by another Agent
HRX 'Harpoon'
A powerful gas powered mechanism capable of launching a deadly, razor-sharp spear over large distances with incredible accuracy
Can be used to ensure enemies "stick around" when players need them to, or to attach perps to their vehicle if they need to take them downtown&or around town
MZ360 'Mini-Gun'
The ultimate fast-firing projectile weapon
"Spin-up" to full fire rate takes some time, but then the devastation is incredible
Comes with a bountiful supply of high-caliber ammunition
VS1 'Cloaking Device'
The perfect device for the Agent that likes his action served psychotic, or for anyone that just needs to get under the radar from time to time
Renders the player barely visible and off radar
The VS1 is fuelled by Agency suit armor; when depleted an Agent can find themselves distressingly vulnerable
New Game Types Max-Agility Rooftop Races
Compete solo or with two players in races across the city rooftops
Nine new races in total, each with its own solo & co-op leaderboards
Four are with Los Muertos, three with The Volk, and The Shai-Gen play host to the remaining two
And no, gamers won't need to complete these too for the existing "Over Our Heads" Achievement! Stockpile
Each district (including Agency Island) hosts a Stockpile game - clearly identified with its unique beacon
Stockpile can be played solo or in co-op
The aim is to collect all the game specific orbs (also marked on the tracker) in the fastest time
Best times are uploaded to the online leaderboards
Two players can work co-operatively to find all the orbs in the fastest possible time, or simply compete for the highest score when the time runs out
In the case of competitive play, it doesn't always pay to do the grunt work of collection; when an Agent is killed he drops a third of his spoils
Checkpoint Chase
A highly addictive two-player competitive game that makes the very most of the world of "Crackdown"
The game can only be initiated in one place - the Agency Garage
A random target destination is identified somewhere on the city, but is only marked on the tracker (not the map)
The first person to reach the destination gains a point and activates the next checkpoint
The winner is the first to 10 points
Other than that, Checkpoint Chase has no rules!
Rocket Tag
The ultimate competitive combat event!
Each of the 21 gang boss lairs now also plays host to a game of Rocket Tag
When the game is activated the players are randomly assigned as "hunter" and "hunted"
The hunter has a straight-shootin' "Hotshot" rocket launcher and more ammo than he could ever need!
The hunted has a pistol
To win, the hunted player must avoid being caught in the blast of the rocket launcher for 60 seconds. Simple!
Achievements: The new content brings with it seven new achievements (taking the overall total to a nice round 50). Let's get one thing straight, nobody's paying for the 100 points that were missing from the original game - and in fact we're repaying that debt with some serious interest! In total the download pack unlocks a whopping 350 gamerscore!
Confiscator *
Impound all the chosen vehicles and store them in the Agency Garage
40 Gamerscore
Psych Out *
Complete all Time Trial missions at the Psychotic Difficulty level
100 Gamerscore
Stockpile Supreme **
Complete any Stockpile mini-game in less than 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
10 Gamerscore
Flippin' Crazy **
Complete 3 flips of any type in a single jump in any vehicle
20 Gamerscore
Body Armor **
Use the Harpoon gun to attach 5 corpses to a single vehicle
10 Gamerscore Street Racer ***
Win all Street Races using any vehicle
20 Gamerscore
Street Racer Elite ***
Win all Street Races using all available vehicles
150 Gamerscore
* Available with Free DLC** Available when one player has Premium DLC*** Available only with Premium DLC

Xbox 360 Dashboard update today: Video Walkthrough

This video is great for taking you through all the Dashboard updates for Xbox 360. Nothing too interesting or mindblowing, but all the updates/changes seem to make sense.

A Pat on the Back

Yes, this is a self proclaiming pat on the back but numbers don't lie. Pictured above is a graph of Gnade Games traffic these past months. It would seem that we are continuing to grow and I am just especially happy about the current exponential curve emerging. Thanks to everyone out there who has helped us along the way, linked to us, bought a sponsored link, or whatever. Huzzah! Okay enough.


Microsoft is a little late on this one, but for $5 you can pick up Double Dragon this Wednesday. I'm not a gamer who wants to relive old games that I loved now only to learn they suck, so I'll pass on this one even though I played all 3 double dragons on the original NES. Sucks that we only get an oldie this week, but then again the big dashboard update is coming this week as well.


Catan is based on the best-selling boardgame: Settlers of Catan. As a result, don't expect the action or graphical flair of a typical videogame in this title. Catan is a digital version of a boardgame, much like LIVE's Uno is a digital version of a card game. Catan is not for everyone, but is probably the greatest board game since Monopoly and as such is quite addictive and enjoyable.

Gameplay: 10/10
Pros: The gameplay isn't for everyone, but I cannot think of a better way to implement this game for the Xbox. The controls work perfectly and the game is absolutely addictive. It is easy to pick up and learn the basics while the complexities and depth are tremendous. The randomization of the board only makes it all the more tantilizing. An expertly crafted boardgame.
Cons: It's a boardgame.
Graphics: 6/10
Pros: The "Living World" Graphics are much better and more interesting than the stale flat "traditional" board and pretty up the game some. The graphical interface is really well done and makes play easier.
Cons: There's no hiding the staleness of the looks, lack of animation, and boardgame roots. The game isn't about looks though.
Sound/Music: 6/10
Pros: The soundFX are subtle and remind you it's your turn or alert you to trades without being overbearing or obnoxious. The music is tranquil.
Cons: The music seems too loud by default and I found whenever I booted up the game or switched from a gamedisc to Catan that I had to turn down the volume significantly.
Lasting Appeal: 8/10
Pros: It will take time to rack up all the victory points necessary for the 200 achievements, online multiplayer is excellent and keeps things moving, AI opponents are challenging.
Cons: Matchmaking online takes awhile...way too long. The board game pace is not for everyone and can be tedious.
Average: 75.00%
Tilt: +2.00%
This game is not for everyone, but I found it a very refreshing boardgame (and had never heard or played before) and was quickly addicted to collecting resources and screwing my fellow players with the dastardly robber. $10 is a lot for the presentation, sound, and music of the game, but at a fraction of the cost of the actual boardgame, the $10 asking price is perfect for this deep and satisfying strategy game.
Verdict: 77%

Halo 3 Beta Control Scheme revealed and a SWEET new marketing poster

This poster is a vast improvement over the earlier 'HALO 3' in big letters one. The shot of Master Chief is excellent and would make a great Game Jacket.

meanwhile, Bungie also released the Beta's default control scheme. Nothing too surprising here, but I do think using right bumper as board vehicle etc. will be least at first. Dual wielding just got a whole lot better too, with independent reload.