Halo 3 map pack coming December 11

The first Halo 3 map pack will be made available December 11th. The pack contains three maps and will cost 800 points (a little steep, Bungie!). Details from the press release are as follows:

Available for 800 Microsoft Points exclusively on Xbox LIVE Marketplace, each map presents a totally different play style. Standoff’s symmetrical valley, with its entrenched bases and fields of boulders is ideal for mid-sized objective and Slayer game types, while Rat’s Nest’s vast, labyrinthine passages bring something new to the “Halo” multiplayer experience: an indoor vehicle paradise, strongly influenced by the Campaign mode, ideal for big team battles. Finally, Foundry is the ultimate Forge map – players can edit every single object in this voluminous industrial warehouse, place stairways, walls, bridges and tunnels to create an entirely new play space and build almost any kind of map they can think of.

Here are some pictures, borrowed from BlimBlim at Gamersyde (thanks!):

Note: These screens are downscaled. To see the full size, drag and drop them to your address bar.

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Rock Band strikes back…a new king ready to be crowned?

Yesterday Guitar Hero III saw some new tracks made available for download. We were a bit excited because it came so early, but today some of the DLC for Rock Band was leaked. Well, let me be the first to say that this shames anything Activision has ever offered for download to support either GHII or GHIII thus far. Here’s what we know is coming up soon for Rock Band (in addition to the already announced full album downloads from Nirvana, The Grateful Dead, and The Who):

The Police pack:

  • “Roxanne”
  • “Synchronicity II”
  • “Can’t Stand Losing You”

Queens of the Stone Age pack:

  • “3s and 7s”
  • “Sick Sick Sick”
  • “Little Sister”

Metallica pack:

  • Three or six songs, none announced yet

Black Sabbath pack:

  • “N.I.B.” (cover)
  • “Sweet Leaf” (cover)
  • “War Pigs” (cover)

David Bowie pack:

  • “Moonage Dream”
  • “Heroes”
  • “Queen Bitch”

Punk pack:

  • “Ever Fallen in Love” by Buzzcocks (cover)
  • “I Fought the Law” by The Clash
  • “Rockaway Beach” by The Ramones

Single Songs:

  • “Fortunate Son” by Credence Clearwater Revival
  • “Juke Box Hero” by Foreigner
  • “My Sharona” by The Knack
  • “Cherry Bomb” by The Runaways
  • “Bang a Gong” by T-Rex
  • “Joker and the Thief” by Wolfmother
  • “Brass in a Pocket” by Pretenders
  • “My Iron Lung” by Radiohead
  • “Buddy Holly” by Weezer

Yeah, you guys read that right…SINGLE SONGS! Activision could learn from this and start offering single songs as well. I hate the packs, personally, because usually you don’t want all three. I’m super stoked for My Iron Lung and some of the other tracks listed above. It sure would be nice if a DLC war could get started between the two franchises…

First Guitar Hero DLC hits Xbox Live

For 500 points, you can download song packs from the Foo Fighters or Velvet Revolver. Each pack has three songs, so they come out to cost just over $2.00/song. It’s probably not the best value, but it’s nice to see that Activision is committed to expanding the GHIII setlist. Hopefully GHIII gets better DLC support than GHII has.

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Foo Fighters Song Pack:

  • The Pretender
  • All My Life
  • This is a Call

Velvet Revolver Song Pack:

  • Slither
  • Messages
  • She Builds Quick Machines

Ikaruga, Rez, others coming to XBLA

Yes, the headline is correct. Treasure’s Dreamcast/arcade/GameCube classic shooter is coming to Xbox Live Arcade. Not much more needs to be said except for that the game is a required download for each and every 360 owner. If you don’t download the game, I’m pretty sure you deserve the eventual red rings of death.

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Also coming to XBLA:

  • Rez – Holy crap awesome rhythm shooter
  • Exit – Pretty solid and entertaining platformer/puzzler
  • Every Extra Extend Extreme – Neat rhythm puzzler from the maker of Lumines
  • Omega Five – Never played this one…

Seriously, boys and girls. Ikaruga will rock your face off. It’s just a shame that the 360 d-pad is so terrible. Maybe it’s time to either track down the Dead or Alive 4 stick, or look into a custom arcade joystick solution.

Guitar Hero III demo coming?

Apparently Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground is going to offer games an early peek at Guitar Hero III for the 360. Also announced by Activision is that two weeks after the release of Tony Hawk Proving Ground that the demo would make its way onto the Xbox Live Marketplace as a free download. The songs reportedly being included in the demo are:

“Lay Down” by Preistess
“Even Flow” by Pearl Jam
“The Metal” by Tenacious D
“Hit Me With Your Best Shot” as made famous by Pat Benatar
“Rock You Like A Hurricane” as made famous by Scorpions

The “as made famous by” means that the song is a remake while the others are master tracks. Pearl Jam in the demo? Awesome.

New Guitar Hero II DLC – Same Stupid Prices

Activision has tossed three more songs up in a single download pack on Xbox Live Marketplace for 500 points. The songs include Smoke on the Water, I Wanna Be Sedated, and You Got Another Thing Coming. No word is available yet if more songs are coming.

So what’s the deal here? Not only are they charging a ridiculous price for these songs, but they’re rolling them out sloooooowly. At this rate, it will cost you over $100 to own all the songs from the original Guitar Hero and take you approximately a decade to get them all. I’m still not about to pay these prices for three songs…especially since More Than a Feeling still hasn’t appeared.

Microsoft E3 2007 Press Conference – My Messy Notes

-Halo theme opening by Corporeal (sp?) guys was pretty awesome.
-Peter Moore comes on stage as the music wraps up – mild applause
-Every game and demo shown will release THIS YEAR
-Peter claims it’s the best lineup in holiday history

-Rock Band by Harmonix w/ Peter Moore
-Peter on guitars
-Looks like an absolute blast
-Peter flubbed a few notes

-Viva Piñata Party Animals
-Attempt to cash in on mini-game craze
-50+ games

-Mass Effect
-Day one purchase for me
-Amazing animation
-Incredible production value
-All that next-gen should be
-November

(start video reel)
-PG4
-Dynasty Wars: Gundam
-COD4
-Stranglehold
-GHIII
-Beaut. Katamari
-Lost Odyssey
-NBA Live 08
-Fatal Inertia
-Medal of Honor Airborne
-Tiger Woods 08
-Ace Combat 6
-NHL 08
-Assassin’s Creed
-Spder-Man: Friend or Foe
-The Simpsons Game
-Splinter Cell Conviction
-Nascar 08
-Eternal Sonata
-BioShock
-Madden 08
-Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground
-Crash of the Titans
-Harry Potter Order Phoenix
-The Orange Box
-Bee Movie
-Naruto: Rise of a Ninja

-VP GLobal Marketing Jeff Bell
-Scene it game
-New controller “for everybody”…looks dumb

-More money will be spent on games than music
-Spin spin spin about install base
-Outselling PS3 2:1…tight race with Wii
-Highest attach rate, more overall sales than PS3/Wii combined, 2/3 3rd party games
-Half of consumer spending on 360 (doesn’t include handheld)
-Top 5 games were GTA/Halo last gen
-360 only platform to have GTA, Halo, Madden at once

-Naruto
-Looks nice, not my cup of tea
-Naruto runs like an idiot
-Fighting looks fast and fun like GCN games

-EA 2008 Lineup
-Double speed (fps)
-NCAA 08 next week
-Reggie Bush on stage
-Cheesy banter
-Obviously staged moment where Reggie busts a big run for a touchdown

-7 million Live members
-45 million game downloads
-Games show in video reel
-Bomberman Live
-Undertow
-Hexic 2
-Sonic the Hedgehog
-War World
-Sensible World of Soccer
-Every Extra Extend Extreme
-Geono
-Wing Commander Arena
-Feeding Frenzy 2
-Track and Field
-Spyglass board games
-Golden Axe
-Space Giraffe
-Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD
-Word Puzzle
-Marathon
-Poker Smash
-Switchball
-Tetris Splash
-Puzzle Quest
-Boku Sudoku

-HD Library twice size of leading cable provider
-Disney on Xbox Live d’load service…pretty much everything
-Tons of movies coming
-Global HD video downloads this year

-VP Corporate Office Shane Kim
-Forza 2 to sell over 1 million by end of month
-PGR4 demo
-All top manufacturers for bikes and cars
-Over 120 vehicles
-10 locations
-Shanghai shown w/ storm
-PGR4 shares photos and videos PGR on demand
-This September
-New trailer shown
-Claims 360 is most powerful console
-Lost Odyssey demo
-Looks great, very FFX in style

-Games for Windows
-Viva Piñata to PC
-Gears of War
-Game editor, new content, other surprises
-Cliffy B. on stage
-5 new chapters
-New multi mode, new multi arena
-Huge boss fight demo

-Peter Moore returns
-Live Support built in to unreal engine 3
-More than 60 titles on GFW this year (start video reel)

-Flight Simulator X
-Thrillville: Off the Rails
-Bee Movie
-Hellgate: London
-Age of Empires III: Asian Dynasties
-Stranglehold
-Gears of War
-BioShock
-Crysis
-Universe at War: Earth Assault
-BlackSite: Area 51
-World in Conflict
-Age of Conan
-Lost Planet
-Kane & Lynch
-Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts
-Zoo Tycoon 2: Extinct Animals
-Juiced 2
-Viva Piñata
-Spider-Man: Friend or Foe

-Call of Duty 4 demo
-Amazing graphics and ambiance
-Very detailed
-Retains frantic nature of CoD series
-Live demo
-Awesome sniper action in demo
-Make good use of cover and stealth
-Exclusive to 360 online multi beta http://charlieoscardelta.com (was down at time of conference)

-Splinter Cell Conviction talked about
-GTAIV trailers were real-time 360 version – shown again
-Oct 16 NA , Oct 19 Europe
-Extra exclusive episodes by Spring

-RE 5!!! (only game shown not to be released this year)
-Jaw dropping graphics
-Village turning into zombies of some sort
-Trailer only about 20 seconds long
-July 26th full trailer on XBLM

-Assassin’s Creed
-Jayde gets cat calls from audience
-demo in Jerusalem
-everything in view is interactive
-villagers interfere or help
-fell into trap
-fights based on timed combos and counter attacks
-environment important in fights
-chases differ by personality of opponent
-November

-Halo 3 promo trailer with live actors – NOT HALO MOVIE
-Looks cheesy
-True to game series
-Warthogs, Pelicans!
-New console for Halo release
-Green Halo 360 Special Edition in September
-“meh” from the audience
-Halo 3 trailer to close show

-Halo 3 trailer!!!
-Pretty great trailer showing the Chief allied with Elites fighting Brutes
-MASSIVE enemy vehicles
-Environments looked gigantic
-Cortana looked to be in some sort of pain

-Crowd filed out during live music inspired by Halo franchise

Overall the conference was pretty ho-hum, but the 360 will still most likely have the best holiday lineup. There weren’t any real surprises outside of Resident Evil 5 being shown, but it was only a brief glimpse. There is plenty in the lineup to be excited about, however, so even though fans are feeling down about the quality of the conference, they should be extremely excited by the release schedule.

Review: Pac-Man Championship Edition

Pac-Man Championship Edition, available on Xbox Live Arcade is pretty dang awesome. With challenge on par with the best of the XBLA games, and an addictive charm that rivals Geometry Wars Retro Evolved, Pac-Man CE is the best title to be released on the download service in quite some time. The game sports some beautiful visuals and some rock-solid gameplay.

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The game play similar to the old Pac-Man, but there are some new and unique twists to the formula. Instead of starting with a full maze of pellets, you’ll be given a small maze partially filled. As you progress, the maze expands and more pellets appear. All of this is pretty frantic, especially since you’re working within a time limit. The goal, like any other Pac-Man game before it, is to rack up the highest score possible. Comparing scores with your friend list is going to drive you back to the controller again and again.

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It’s a shame that a game of this quality is going to be passed up because people will see the name Pac-Man and figure that it’s an old and antiquated title. The truth is, Pac-Man Championship Edition is one of the most fresh and quality experiences to be had on XBLA. My sole complaint isn’t even with the game itself, it’s with the crappy quality of the 360 d-pad and the imprecise nature of the analog stick.

I highly recommend the game to all types of gamers.

Overall Score: 9/10

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Can’t we all play fair?

I rarely use the blog as a space to whine, but there is a bit of a point to this. Just last night I went online and I played my first ranked match of FIFA ’07 on Xbox Live. I picked Real Madrid once I noticed that the other player was choosing Italy (of course). I’ve been using Real Madrid in a league I’m a part of, and I wanted more practice with the team, and I figured they’d be a pretty fair match for Italy.

I score the first goal early on to make it 1-0 and the other player soon answers back to make it 1-1. During this time neither of us has said a single word…no trash talk, no congrats. In the second half of the game I picked up a couple of quick goals to gain a 3-1 advantage, and this joker decides that he’s going to ruin the rest of the experience. Instead of playing, he just constantly slide tackles my guys; drawing many fouls in the process. Eventually, with only a few minutes left on the clock he injures one of my players, so I have to sub him out. Once I start the process, the guy goes off and starts questioning my mental capacity and my sexual orientation all in very, ahem, colorful language. I just let him know that I have to sub out the guy because he’s injured. Well, after that he just keeps on with the slide tackles, so I decide to slam one more goal into the net, ending the game at 4-1. He logs off, and I figure that’s the end of it.

A few minutes later I check my rep and the guy has left me negative feedback and said that I quit the match early. What’s annoying is that it’s the first blemish on my rep, and I can’t respond to it in any way. At least eBay lets you respond to negative comments.

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Whatever…

I can live with the bad feedback. I’m sure it will happen in the future, even when I’m being cordial. Why does this have to happen, though? Why can’t we just enjoy our hobby and accept defeat or win with class? If this was my first experience with Xbox Live, I’d wonder if I would want to return. Back on the original Xbox I stopped playing online for this sort of thing. At least this time around enough of my friends have 360s that I can just play with them and avoid the jackasses online. It’s a shame that I have to do that though.

Ah, how I miss the days of the arcade…there was nothing to hide behind. If you lost, you drooped your head and got back in line to challenge the current champ once more. If you won, you accepted the next opponent with a nod and gave it your all.

I guess I shouldn’t expect people to live to any sort of standard or ethics in the online gaming world. I’m probably being naive to hope for better. But hey, wouldn’t it be great if could all just play fair?