Archive for the ‘Video Games’ Category

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BioShock Tip: Harvest or Rescue? Choose Rescue and earn “Hypnotize Big Daddy” plasmid

Early into Bioshock I was faced with a tough decision: Harvest my first Little Sister for more ADAM power, or Rescue her for half the ADAM reward – and Tennenbaum’s promise of another benefit at a later point?

I chose to Rescue, figuring I’ll go with harvesting on my next replay of BioShock (which is, to date, my favorite Xbox 360 game since the platform launched; full review to follow).

Sure enough, two (or maybe it was three) Rescues later, the following sequence occurred, giving up the plasmid “Hypnotize Big Daddy.”

“Hypnotize Big Daddy” plasmid reward:


One Minute Review: The new Xbox 360 Premium HDMI; Yes, it’s quieter, but no Falcon 65nm chipset…yet

I called a few EB Games and Gamestop stores in the area, and only one person knew what I was talking about when I asked if they had the newly revised 360 Premium system with HDMI in stock.

The other shops asked if I meant the Elite. Ditto at Best Buy – until the guy I asked called over his gaming specialist, Jeremiah, and this guy knew exactly what I was talking about. He checked the system and they showed 14 units in stock, however he said he couldn’t sell me one because of a September 1 street date.

I mentioned that others were already selling them, including Amazon, and he looked up some store policy info. Turns out they can sell the newly revised HDMI 360s as long as the older, non-HDMI units are out of stock or sold out. He grabbed one from the back, I paid for it ($349.99) and also sprang for Best Buy’s 2-year extended warranty ($60), which, my sales guy explained, allows me to return the 360 for a full exchange even if only the controller is busted. Back home I did a search and was bummed to discover that my new 360 with HDMI didn’t have the much-anticipated “Falcon” 65-nm chipset that promises cooler operation.

Sure enough the label on the box showed the word Zephyr as the chipset. Various reports say the Falcon chipset is forthcoming. I contacted a Microsoft PR representative and he gave me the stock reply to this question:

“We are constantly updating the console’s more than 1700 internal components and therefore will not comment on details of specific components or manufacturing processes.”

Even so, promises that the revised Xbox 360 with HDMI would be quieter are true: The machine is definitely quieter than the Elite it is replacing, with no noticeable sound when turned on and running without a disc inserted, and with a disc the operation does produce sound, but less than the Elite and the original 360.

While I can live without the 120 GB drive (since I download a movie, watch it, then delete it, and maintain only a few demos at any given time), I was bummed to find there was no analog audio adapter included like the one that came with the Elite. It allows me to use HDMI as my video but analog audio to connect to my surround sound speakers rather than use the less-than-stellar speakers built into the HDTV. I’ll either buy a replacement online or keep the one that came with my Elite when I sell or give away that black box without it.

Bottom line: A quieter Xbox 360 with HDMI.


August 7, 2007 Xbox 360 Console Update: Play that (wireless) guitar

You may be wondering what was updated on your 360 when you said yes to the update it offered on August 7, 2007 (or whenever you turned it on again after that date). I’ll let “Major Nelson” explain in his own words:

Moments ago, the team released a system update (aka Dash update) to Xbox Live. Over the next few hours, when you sign in to Xbox LIVE, you’ll receive a prompt to accept this mandatory update. What’s in this update? The only thing this minor release will do is prepare your Xbox 360 for the wireless guitars that are being released in a few months.

No new features beyond this wireless support are included in this update. As usual, we’ve got some new features planned for later this year as part of our biannual release cycle.

Until then, keep practicing your music-making on those oh-so-agreeable hands-free air guitars.


The New York Times: Chatpad keyboard for Xbox 360 speeds typing

Keyboard for Xbox Speeds Typing
Published: August 2, 2007

Sending voice and Webcam picture messages to fellow Xbox 360 players over Microsoft’s Xbox Live service is a cinch, but tapping out old-fashioned text messages using the 360’s onscreen keyboard isn’t much fun. A new $30 miniature keyboard called the Chatpad speeds up text entry to let you best even the fastest BlackBerry touch-typists.

The Chatpad, to go on sale Sept. 6, attaches to the underside of the 360’s controller without interfering with the controller’s comfortable feel in the hands. A backlight makes typing during late-night Gears of War campaigns easier on the eyes, and a dedicated Messenger button activates the 360’s instant messaging program so you can taunt your enemies without breaking from the action.

Unfortunately you can’t use the keyboard to type a letter and jump to the corresponding spot in long lists of Xbox Live movie downloads or songs stored on an iPod connected to the 360. Instead, you need to hold down the scroll button. Albert Penello, director for global marketing for Xbox, said the company was looking into a way to add this feature.


One Minute Review: The Darkness (Xbox 360)

The Good: The Darkness is a beautiful first person shooter with a supernatural twist. Evoking your darkness powers becomes second nature after a few hours of play, and before you know it you’re flipping between creepy talents like there’s no tomorrow.

The Bad: Actually, there may be no tomorrow for supremely talented players because the game is pretty short. Also, while those darkness skills eventually become second nature, they’re pretty confusing to understand and difficult to evoke and control in the early stages of the game; a more detailed training run/explanation would help. Unremarkable ending with final boss Uncle Paulie, and though there are check points, the lack of a save-anywhere feature (as found in Prey or Quake 4, for instance) gets points off in my book.

Bottom Line: Quibbles aside, the game is totally creepy and fun to play. There’s nothing wilder than knocking out all the lights in an area and sending your Creeping Dark scouting ahead for you, going in, over and all around obstacles and rooms and nooks and crannies – then seeing it come flying back in a crazy blur when you retract it. The game is also available for PS3, however I prefer the Xbox 360 version because of those oh-so-addictive achievement points. B+

Also available: The Darkness for PS 3.


The Orange Box: Box artwork for Half-Life 2 collection revealed

Valve Software has ponied up box shots of the upcoming collection, The Orange Box. Though I’ve always liked keyboard and mouse play better than console controller, this is one game I can’t wait to play all crashed out in front of the HDTV.



The New York Times: All the Films You Want to See, but When? By Joe Hutsko

All the Films You Want to See, but When?
By Joe Hutsko

Downloading movies over a high-speed Internet connection offers the promise of convenience, but promise is the operative word for this new method.

Read the story on the New York Times.

Related: PODCAST
Tech Talk, June 20, 2007
Tom talks to writer Joe Hutsko about what it’s really like to download and watch movies from the various services vying to deliver video right to your PC or TV.

Listen to the podcast.


On MSNBC: Fellowship rules in ‘Lord of the Rings Online’


On Fellowship rules in ‘Lord of the Rings Online’
by Joe Hutsko

If ever there was a massively multiplayer role-playing game to take the uninitiated by the hand and lead the way, it’s “Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar.”


Mortal Kombat Armageddon Fatality Moves for Wii players

Besting competing platforms in finishing moves that really get yer ass moving, Midway comes out swinging (literally) with a full roster of every Fatality finishing move for Mortal Kombat Armageddon for the Wii version of the game.

Click here to download the Fatality Moves in .pdf format.


On One game, three platforms: Which is best?

One game, three platforms: Which is best?
by Joe Hutsko

Does ‘The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion’ play better on an Xbox 360, PS3 or PC?

“Shivering Isles” lured the author back into playing “Elder Scrolls” on the Xbox 360. But which platform best showcases this epic adventure title — console or PC?


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