Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Black Ops 2

All players will experience the same story, says Treyarch.

Treyarch interested in Smart Glass For Black Ops 2

Black Ops 2 developer Treyarch hasn't confirmed nor denied if the game is coming to Wii U, but isn't ruling out using the hardware just yet.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 developer Treyarch is keeping quiet on the subject of Wii U development, but director of communications John Rafacz has confirmed to NowGamer that the studio is open to considering Nintendo's console in future.
Rafacz explained, "We're always interested to see what the first-party is up to. Taking a step back from just the Wii U - whether it's Wii U or SmartGlass or what have you, we are always interested in exploring anything that can enhance the Call of Dutyexperience."
"When you talk about fan expectations," Rafacz continued, "I think it's fair to say that people come to the Call of Duty experience with those, so anything that furthers that experience and remains true to the Call of Duty universe, we're open to considering."
The jury is still out on Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 for Wii U and SmartGlass, but we'll keep an eye on Treyarch for more information.

Written by Dane Cook

New Xbox Rumors

While gossip surrounding the next Xbox has been churning around inside the rumour mill for a good few years now, there's no doubt that we're getting closer to learning some cold, hard facts.
Xbox 720 release date, news and rumoursWe fully expect the Xbox 720 - if it is indeed to be called that – to launch in time for Christmas 2013. And with the increasing frequency of new rumours, reports and leaks, an official reveal from Microsoft cannot be too far away.
So what can we expect from the Xbox 720 when it is finally revealed by Microsoft, and when will it finally hit the shelves?

Xbox 720 to pack Blu-ray and DVR features?

document that leaked in June 2012 indicates that the Xbox 720 will come packing 1080p 3D support, Blu-rayplayer and DVR functionality. This would indicate that Microsoft is trying to position the Xbox 720 as the single does-it-all set-top box in your living room.

Xbox 720 to pack AMD graphics and CPU?

If the next Xbox is to be as popular and last as long as theXbox 360 – without the frankly appalling hardware failures which blighted its early days – it's going to need some reliable and powerful components.
Latest rumours suggest that the console will contain a revision of AMD's 7000 series graphics, which is based on its 28nm Graphics Core Next (GCN) Southern Islands tech.
Anonymous sources are being quoted on VG247 as saying that the graphics setup in the Xbox 720 will be "like two PCs taped together" which sounds like waffle to us. What does that even mean?
The same sources say that the two GPUs in the Xbox 720 "aren't structured as they are in a normal dual PC set-up," with each chip working separately to draw different items simultaneously.
Again, this sounds rather wooly to us, so let's try and make some sense of it...
Perhaps it depends what the source is referring to as different 'items'. The traditional usage of multi-GPU tech is Alternate Frame Rendering (AFR) where each GPU renders a frame in turn; if the source is saying that is not the case in the Xbox 720 then it will be a whole new usage of twin graphics chips.

It's also possible the confusion here could be arising from the difference between AMD's old GPU architecture, used in the Xbox 360, and the new Graphics Core Next technology. The old Very Long Instruction Word (VLIW) architecture of AMD's last gen GPUs essentially batched up instructions before outputting them.
It's possible this simultaneous rendering of different items could be referring to using the twin GPUs to display 3D outputs – where each chip is rendering a different angle of a scene to generate the 3D effect. This would then minimise the stress that 3D gaming puts on graphics chips.Still, if that secondary GPU is lying dormant during non-3D gaming it would be rather wasteful, so the GPUs must surely still be used concurrently to render the games.
But GCN is made up of more independent microprocessors capable of carrying out more instructions concurrently.
Either way, the inclusion of AMD 7000 series graphics would put the new Xbox on a par with the current rumoured specs of the Sony PS4 which is in turn expected to also contain AMD Southern Islands graphics as well as an AMD x86 CPU.

Are we really to believe that the 'next generation' of games consoles would essentially be out of date mini AMD PCs, with just the operating systems and scale of fun-sucking DRM the only levels of differentiation? We can't see that being the case, and a report in April 2012 suggests that Microsoft does indeed have something more exciting up its sleeve.
It would put the two consoles on level footing in terms of performance as they will essentially contain the same hardware, though by the time they actually go on sale they would to be hopelessly out of date compared to modern PCs.
Xbox World reported that the Xbox 720 will pack a 16-core CPU, which would certainly add some much needed muscle to the maybe-possibly underpowered graphics.

What will the Xbox 720 actually be called?

It's entirely possible that Microsoft could call it the Xbox 720, but we reckon it'll have something a bit more exciting up its sleeve.
Noted Microsoft blogger MS Nerd outed the name Xbox Loop, claiming that the long-awaited console will be "far smaller", cheaper and quiteKinect-focused when it finally lands on our shelves.
Rrecent reports indicate that Microsoft's internal codename for the new Xbox is 'Durango'. Sean Tracy, a technical designer at games developer Crytek,said on Twitter: "Enjoying the Durango developers summit in London. So far, great swag and interesting talks". The tweet was very quickly taken down but the codename was out of the bag by then.

Xbox 720 storage and disc format

It now seems highly likely that the new Xbox will arrive packing a Blu-ray drive.
Microsoft was, if you remember, a staunch member of the HD DVDPromotion Group and went so far as to launch an external HD DVD drive for the 360. So it represents a bit turn-around for Microsoft to embrace Blu-ray, but it also makes perfect sense.
Read speeds from DVDs are still faster than from Blu-ray discs, but BDs can hold vastly more data. A standard dual-layer BD can contain 50GB of data compared to the Xbox 360's dual-layer DVDs which contain between 8 and 9GB.
Many current Xbox 360 titles come on two or three discs, and with the size of Xbox 720 games destined to dwarf current titles, that extra capacity is a fundamental requirement.

Xbox 720 games are in development

It looks as though games developers are already playing with Xbox 720 hardware - a recent job advert from Peter Molyneux's Lionhead studio asks for developers with a background in DirectX 11 - a platform not used by any of the current consoles but is rumoured to be used in the AMD-powered Xbox 720.
It's a bit of a no-brainer that titles are in development from all the big studios if you ask us.

What about the Xbox 720 controller?

Many rumours suggest that the second version of Kinect will sit at the heart of the Xbox 720 experience. A console built around motion detection has lots of promise and it seems highly likely that this is the direction Microsoft is taking, given the way it's currently pushing Kinect hardware and software.
However, you can be sure that the trusty control pad will remain a core component for hardcore gaming. The 360 control pad is wildly popular amongst both console and PC gamers so we can't see the design changing too radically, either.

Will Microsoft kill the second-hand games market?

There have been rumours cicrulating that the new Xbox console will feature a system aimed at preventing owners playing used games. That would mean no trading-in of old titles in order to fund the purchase of new ones - a move that would not be warmly received by gamers or highstreet store.
The rumours centre around the concept of the new Xbox demanding an always-on internet connection. That sounds like a horrifying idea to us – say it ain't so!

The Xbox 720 release date

All indications are that the next Xbox will arrive in time for Christmas 2013.

How much will Xbox 720 cost?

That leaked document we mentioned earlier mentions a $299 (£190) price point which soundsd gloriously ambitious to us. Expect it to cost a bit more than that but assuming the PS4 launches around the same time, expect some competitive pricing.

New Xbox 360 Music Player

 With the Zune music brand being de-emphasized, theXbox Music service seems poised to take center stage in Microsoft's music ambitions with its 30 million tracks, compared to 11 million in the Zune Music Marketplace. Microsoft promised Xbox Music for the Xbox 360, Windows Phone, and Windows 8, but Gartner analystMichael Gartenberg reports that the service will also run on iOS and Android. Support for anything other than Microsoft platforms was not announced publicly by Microsoft, however.
Xbox Music will be the "music service we have always dreamed of building," with great ways to share and discover new music, Microsoft marketing and strategy executive Yusuf Mehdi said at the E3.
Xbox Music will provide "access to your music collection from any screen, combined with unique social features," Microsoft said in marketing materials accompanying the announcement. "Xbox Music includes a music store for song downloads, music subscription offering, artist-based radio, and a great cross-screen client for your personal music collections."
While details on the music service (including an availability date) were scarce, Microsoft also announced several dozen new entertainment deals that will bring more video content to Xbox 360 owners. Content coming later this year includes NHL GameCenter Live, NBA Game Time, NBA League Pass, and 24/7 programming from several ESPN channels.
Over the next 12 months, an additional 30 or so content partners will arrive on Xbox, with many of them launching in just one or two countries. The US will get Comedy Central Stand Up, GameSpot TV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Movies, Rhapsody, Slacker Radio, The Weather Channel, and more (full list is here.)
The music and video deals will help cement the Xbox 360's position as a home media center that goes far beyond the capabilities of traditional video game consoles. With the "SmartGlass" technology also announced today, you can likely expect lots of cross-device scenarios, such as using your phone or tablet to control the music and video playing on an Xbox 360-powered television.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New DLC for Modern Warfare 3!

Like Face Off? Then you’ll love ELITE Content Drops 13 – 15 as it features 3 brand new maps for the brand new game mode as well as a new Spec Ops mission which is offering some exciting and unique gameplay! Don’t worry though if Face Off isn’t your thing as Mark Rubin has confirmed that no more Face Off maps will be coming to Modern Warfare 3, instead standard multiplayer maps will be returing in the next content drops.
Drops 13-15 will be the first to be create the third content collection map pack for Modern Warfare 3.
Content Drops 13 – 15 Release Dates:
Xbox 360 Elite Subscriber: 19th June 2012
PlayStation 3 Elite Subscriber: Around 19th July 2012
Xbox 360: Somepoint in July as part of Map Pack 3.
PlayStation 3: Somepoint in August as part of Map Pack 3.
PC: Somepoint in August as part of Map Pack 3.
The first piece of new content (ELITE DROP 13) is the Spec Ops mission called “Arctic Recon”. Requiring surgical precision by air, land, and sea, this new Special Ops mission tasks you with destroying a Russian battleship by planting beacons for an air strike. Take control of a recon helicopter to reveal the beacon locations before fighting off forces on the ground to ensure the ship never leaves port. This mission requires two players so make sure you select your teammate wisely!

Arctic Recon
Next up we have ELITE DROP 14 which for some weird reason consists of two pieces of content: “Vortex” and “U-Turn”. In Vortex no storm shelter can keep you safe, the all-new “Face Off” map that places you just outside the danger zone of a devastating tornado. This one reminds us of Overgrown from previous Modern Warfare games!
An old ranch house sits threatened by the approach of a raging tornado. The front porch and sprawling shrubbery intensifies combat to the south with a tight line of sight. An open field stretches across the north, with a cornfield and central hill obscuring visuals, making ambush an ever-present threat.


Vortex Tactical View
U-Turn is a bombed-out, gridlocked highway provides a perfect backdrop for combatants on this all-new “Face Off” map, where oil fields burn black high above six-lanes’ worth of abandoned cars, buses and paths for attack.
A militarized highway cuts across a burning oil field, with damaged vehicles strewn about four vertical lanes. Minimal overhead cover increases the threat of aerial killstreaks and the surrounding clutter makes detection much more difficult. Keep a low profile, sweep the area, and get the jump on your target.


U-Turn Tactical View
ELITE DROP 15: A New York bridge overpass provides the backdrop for this all-new “Face Off” map, Intersection in which an ultra-condensed 2-block battle zone allows players to fight on the first and second floors of surrounding apartments and bombed-out bodegas.
Four buildings circle a large cross street, encouraging players to dig in and fight it out across the map. Race out into the open and expect to quickly come under fire. Stick to the interior, protect your position with ground explosives, and book it only when the enemy starts pushing toward your location.


Intersection Tactical View

Three brand new Achievement / Trophies have also been added to the game as a result of the Arctic Recon Spec Ops mission:
  • Stay Frosty: Complete the “Arctic Recon” Special Ops mission on any difficulty. (15G)
  • Sub Zero: Complete the “Arctic Recon” Special Ops mission on Veteran difficulty.
  • dr0n3d: Complete the “Arctic Recon” Special Ops mission in under 3:30.
How do I get it the drops?
If you are an Elite premium member then the next time you go into Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Multiplayer you will get a message saying that new content is available and then it will download it automatically. If not then make sure you visit the “Store” menu option where you should be presented with a message. The content will roll out slowly around the world so don’t be alarmed if it doesn’t show up straight away.
Note: You can still become an Elite member after the Drops have been released and still get all the Drops that have been and will be released.
If you are not an Elite member then you will need to wait till the content is released as part of a map pack which will include 5 pieces of content. Then you can purchase it through the PlayStation Network, XBOX Live or Steam (For PC users).

Article originally seen here

Playing A Vampire In Skyrim: Dawnguard

Playing A Vampire InSkyrim: Dawnguard

Crossbows, mysterious pale women, and a castle packed with nasty vampires: although the first few hours of Skyrim's first downloadable content start off a little slow, they've got some awesome things to offer—and they hint at even more to come.
Dawnguard, the expansion pack-sized DLC that developer Bethesda releases today for Xbox 360 (and later for PC and PlayStation 3), is good at slowly but surely building your excitement. Since receiving a code late last night, I've spent about three or four hours (who needs sleep?) exploring and hacking through Dawnguard's chunk of the world. And I'm psyched to see what will happen next.
While playing, I jotted down some notes about the experience. For your reading pleasure, here they are.
(Spoilers for the first 2-3 hours of Dawnguard follow)
  • The coolest thing you can do in this DLC, in my experience so far, is turn into a vampire. You get this ability by visiting a castle full of vampires, listening to the king's generous offer to give you his blood, and saying yes. (He threatens to destroy you if you don't say yes.)
  • As a vampire, you have a handful of special abilities. From the main menu you can use Vampire's Servant, which reanimates a corpse to fight by your side for 60 seconds, Vampire's Sight, which improves your night vision, and Vampire Lord, which zooms you out into third-person mode and morphs your character into a vicious beast.
  • As a Vampire Lord—which is where all your real powers come into play—you can't use regular equipment. Your blood boils when you enter sunlight. You can drain life and eventransform into a swarm of bats (which is sort of like a makeshift teleportation skill.)
  • Turning into a vampire limits your inventory options until you revert back to human form.
  • Turning into a vampire will purge the werewolf blood from your system.
  • Turning into a vampire is really fucking cool.
  • But how do you get that ability? Let's take it from the top. When I log into Dawnguard for the first time—which is really just logging into Skyrim with the DLC downloaded and installed—I load up my old character, who had been hanging out in the city Whiterun. Immediately I'm accosted by a bunch of vampire thralls. Once I defeat them, a man named Durak comes up to me and orders me to go check out Fort Dawnguard, in the way southeast corner of the map.
  • See, Fort Dawnguard is where a group called the Dawnguard lives. They fight vampires. Like Buffy, but with Viking accents.
  • If you start random conversations with the guards, they talk about the new vampire menace and how they wish it would go away.
  • Eager to see a bunch of cool new shit, I make my way to the new area, which is southeast of Riften. I trek through an area called Dayspring Canyon and pass Stendarr's Beacon.

Playing A Vampire In Skyrim: Dawnguard

  • Fort Dawnguard is huge. It looks lovely and romantic in the snow.
  • Outside Fort Dawnguard, I meet a man named Agmaer. He's a little runt. He says he wants to join the Dawnguard, but he's scared because he's never done anything like this before. I vow that when I become a vampire and betray the Dawnguard, he'll be my first victim.
  • I see Durak training with a crossbow. We chat and he says it's the Dawnguard's specialty. He gives me one. "Nothing better for putting down vampires."
  • Shooting the crossbow feels nice and twangy, just like you'd expect. But it seems to reload way too slowly to be practical in combat at all. Maybe my character—a level 27 mage/swordsman—is just not built for ranged combat.
  • When I enter Fort Dawnguard, I fall into the floor. Talk about a groundbreaking experience.
  • Leaving and re-entering the room fixes this issue. Soon I'm chatting with Isran, leader of the Dawnguard, who asks me to go investigate Dimhollow Crypt, where a bunch of vampires are hunting after something. My job is to find out what that is.
  • I teleport near Dimhollow Crypt and make my way over there.
  • Oh, fuck off Ice Wraith.
  • I'm too powerful for this DLC—or at least the first few hours of this DLC. Everything dies very, very quickly. Even Master Vampires collapse in two or three hits.
  • So the dungeon is fairly easy. I do get to meet a new enemy, the Gargoyle, which is essentially just a new skin to attack.
  • At the end of Dimhollow Crypt, I find a vampire woman named Serana. She's casually carrying an Elder Scroll on her back. She asks if I'll help her get home.
  • I take Serana to her home, the aforementioned vampire castle (located in the way northwest). It's called Castle Volkihar. Her father, the king, asks if I want to join the tribe.
  • I am now a vampire.

Playing A Vampire In Skyrim: Dawnguard

  • In order to gain new perks as a vampire—which has its own skill tree—you have to kill enemies using your Drain Life or biting abilities.
  • Some of the higher-end vampire perks include Supernatural Reflexes, which slows everything down, Night Cloak, which gives you a cloak of bats (!) that feed on enemies within range, and Summon Gargoyle, which does what it sounds like.
  • I don't know why anyone would ever choose not to be a vampire. Presumably if you denied the king's request, you'd go back and fight for the Dawnguard. But... why?
  • There's a feeding pit. You can go up to human thralls and suck out their blood. It's hot.
  • I'm introduced to some other members of vampire court, like the nasty Orthjolf and Vingalmo, two oddly named vamps who are apparently out to get one another.
  • What's interesting about the vampire castle—and what will hopefully make this a cool plotline—is that everyone is just a straight-up awful person. Which will make for some interesting stories. Hopefully it's as cool as the Dark Brotherhood.
  • It will take every ounce of restraint in my body to not go around every city in Skyrim, eating people and bat-swarming my way through crowds of dumb guards. Gotta finish the actual game so I can review it for all you lovely readers. You're welcome.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Xbox Live Rewards Program

You might soon be rewarded for racking up those achievements in your Xbox 360 games.
Microsoft has hinted that there could soon be a new system in place which gives players special offers or content based on their Gamerscore level.
Gamerscore values are pumped up by earningAchievements, virtual gold stars that players receive when they accomplish various in-game tasks. These range from basic things like completing a level, to very obscure side quests and high score milestones that are meant to be granted to only the most hardcore players.
The software giant alluded to the rewards program via Twitter, where it boasted about hitting 50,000 followers.
The company wrote, "We've hit 50,000 followers, which means it's time for an announcement! Coming Fall: a new way to earn Rewards based on your Achievements!"
Microsoft has previously toyed with this idea. It had a pilot program for awarding gamers with digital goodies if they managed to bump up their Gamerscore within a promotional period of time.
However, it was more of a one-time deal as opposed to a legitimate rewards/loyalty program so it likely doesn't relate to this upcoming announcement.
Sony also tried something like this with the PS3 and its online Playstation Network service. A very short-lived rewards program offered prizes including digital content and even physical goods like t-shirts, to users who were highly active within the PS3's online service.
But that program was only ever rolled out to a hand-picked group of users, only lasted a matter of months, and was never offered to the entire PS3 user base.

Xbox 360 May get Banned in the United States?

Xbox manufacturer Microsoft has rejected a settlement offer from Motorola in an ongoing patent dispute between the two hardware giants. Had Microsoft accepted, the settlement would have resolved a long-running court case that affects the future of both Android phones and Xbox 360s in the United States.
For some background, Microsoft previously accused several Android phonemanufacturers of violating its patent for ActiveSync, a technology that powers calendar syncing on some Android phones. While multiple manufacturers reached settlements with Microsoft, Motorola (owned by Google) did not, instead countersuing on the grounds that Microsoft is in violation of five Motorola patents on both the Xbox 360 and Windows, including built-in WiFi and video decoding technology. Motorola believes that Microsoft should pay royalties for the use of this technology.
The case gained attention back in April when a judge ruled that Microsoft did indeed infringe upon four out of the five Motorola Mobility patents it was accused of violating. At that time, the judge decided that a six-person commission would need to review the extent of each infringement, and a decision against Microsoft would prevent imports of the Xbox 360 to the United States. Since the Xbox 360 is manufactured in China, blocking imports would effectively kill U.S. sales of the console.
Separately, an international ruling in favor of Motorola in early May similarly found that Microsoft had violated Motorola’s patents, banning sales of Xbox 360, Windows 7, Internet Explorer, and Windows Media Player in Germany. Microsoft immediately planned to appeal.
Later that month, things looked worse for Microsoft as a judge recommended againstcontinued sales of Xbox 360 consoles in the United States. While this decision was only a recommendation (the final decision will be made by the International Trade Commission later this year), it could have a great deal of influence on the final call.
That brings us to this week, when Motorola offered to pay Microsoft 33 cents for eachAndroid phone sold. In exchange, Microsoft would pay Motorola 2.25% of each Xboxsold (we've contacted Microsoft to clarify whether that's 2.25% of the retail price or of Microsoft's profit per console) and 50 cents for each copy of Windows. Microsoft rejected those terms, arguing that it’s unfair of Motorola to request royalties “far in excess of market rates.” In the past, Microsoft has noted that it believes Motorola should “make its standard essential patents available on fair and reasonable terms.”
What this boils down to is that neither side is willing to compromise. For now, the International Trade Commission has recommended an import ban on all Android devices using ActiveSync and all Xbox 360 consoles until the patent issues are settled. If settlements continue to be rejected, the ITC will declare its verdict to the White House, at which point the office of the President will have 60 days to finalize the decision.
We’ve reached out to Microsoft for comment and will update with any statement they provide. Until then, keep checking back for continued coverage of the case as new details unfold.
Source: Reuters
Origanally seen Here

June Elite Content update Causes Big Problems

The latest pieces of ELITE Content dropped for Xbox 360 this morning bringing 1 new Spec Ops Mission & 3 new Face Off maps. Many users however are having huge problems with the new content.
One known issue is a “Out of memory” error that users are getting when attempting to play the new Face Off maps. To fix the out of memory error, delete the game off the hard drive and run it off the disk.
Another fix for OOM (Out Of Memory) error: Reboot your console and launch an older map in Private Match You’ll then be able to load the new maps.
Another issue is with the actual downloading of the content as Mark Rubin revealed today on Twitter that they have hit the limit of DLC that a single game can install on the Xbox 360! This is causing some users to have to re-download all of their DLC content to date all over again and re-setting their Spec Ops stats, it is quite a mess!
Follow these steps to be able to load the Spec Ops mission maps:
  • Launch MW3 Special Ops running off HDD
  • Select Find Match and “The struggle continues with all new maps”
  • Back out of the lobby and you’ll gain the ability to load any new maps
Raven Software (One of the developers behind MW3) posted the tutorial below to help users download content:
We have updated our process for downloading Modern Warfare 3 content. If you see red text that says “Playing with original maps only.  Download all DLC content you are entitled to from the STORE in order to play DLC maps” when you are entering multiplayer at the FIND MATCH menu screen please do the following:
Playing with original maps only.
Downloading MW3 DLC for Xbox 360:
1. Return to the Multiplayer Menu and select “Store.”
Select Store in the Multiplayer Menu
2. The DLC DEPOT will appear and show you what DLC you need to download.  Download all available DLC that you are entitled to by pressing the “X” button.
DLC Depot
3. Confirm the download of maps when the Xbox Live marketplace overview appears by pressing the “A” button. You will not be charged for this.
Confirm Download
4. Press the “A” button at the Xbox Live active download notification screen.
Press the "A" button
5. Press the “B” button to exit the Xbox LIVE marketplace active download status screen.
Press the "B" button
6. You will be notified that in order to activate and complete downloading your DLC you need to exit out of MW3 to theXbox 360 dashboard.  Press the “A” button to confirm.
Press the "A" button
7. Press the Guide button on your controller followed by the “Y” to enter Xbox home.
Press the Guide button on the controller followed by the "Y" button
8. Scroll over to the marketplace blade and select the active downloads to monitor the progress of your DLC downloads.  When all the DLC has completed downloading you can now return to MW3 and play with all your content.
Scroll to Active Downloads
An emergency patch has been release with the following message: “So the Downloading of all maps again is due to a change in the Key system for DLC. You don’t actually re-download the whole map just a tiny little key update. Should be really fast. Sorry Microsoft doesn’t have very good messaging for this. As for the loss of Spec Ops stats I’m looking into it. I’m really pissed that that might be broken so am angrily finding out what went wrong. I’ll update you all asap.”
Mark Rubin has confirmed that if your Spec Ops stats are missing that they are not lost, it is a problem with copies ofModern Warfare 3 installed on the Hard Drive of the Xbox 360 which isn’t good for Infinity Ward as that relies on Microsoft for them to fix the problem. “Developers don’t have anyway to know this. HDD install is an MS thing. Not something we can even do on Dev kits.”