Xbox 360 Changing Achievement Policy

Xbox 360 Logo

According to a report by Xbox360Achievements.org, Microsoft will soon be doubling the number of gamerscore points allotted to XBLA titles from 200 to 400, with the maximum number of achievements being upped from 20 to 30.

In addition, DLC will have its gamerscore allotment raised from 75 to 100 pts, with up to four DLC packs allowed during the lifespan of a title. So after all is said and done, any retail Xbox 360 game can potentially net you up to 1,400 gamerscore.

These changes will allegedly go into effect between April 1 and May 31, with games released during this window given the option of adopting the new system or keeping the traditional setup. All new Xbox 360 titles released after June 1 are obligated to follow the new achievement policy however.

Update: This policy has just been confirmed by Microsoft’s Larry Hryb aka Major Nelson on his blog.

Marvel Ends Its Partnership With Sega

Iron Man 2 Sega Xbox 360 ScreenshotAccording to the Hollywood Reporter, Marvel Comics will no longer be making licensed games with Sega.

Over the years this partnership has produced numerous titles based on Marvel characters — Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Incredible Hulk, Thor: God of Thunder, and Captain America: Super Soldier — all of which received lackluster reviews from critics and poor sales.

No word yet on who Marvel will select to replace Sega.

Mass Effect 3 Collector’s Edition Unboxing

Here’s a quick look at everything inside the Collector’s Edition of Mass Effect 3.

They’re are sold out at most stores, but you might still be able to find a copy at Amazon if you hurry. Commander Shepard would be proud.

First Assassin’s Creed 3 Trailer

After last week’s leaks and rumors, today we’ve finally got our first “official” look at Assassin’s Creed 3, courtesy of this debut trailer from Ubisoft.

Like previously believed, AC3 takes place during the American Revolutionary War, and is built on an entirely new engine promising “breakthroughs in visual quality, character models and artificial intelligence”.

We’ve also learned that the new main protagonist is named Ratohnhake:ton and is of Native American and English decent. He’s adopted the name of Connor and is “the new voice for justice in the ancient war between the Assassins and Templars”.

Customers who pre-order Assassin’s Creed 3 at GameStop, Amazon, and Best Buy will receive a limited edition Steelbook Case. In addition the to arriving on the 360, PS3, and PC, Ubisoft have announced the game will be appearing on Nintendo’s Wii U console this fall.

Assassin’s Creed 3 releases October 30, 2012.

SSX Review

SSX Review Xbox 360 Screenshot

The glory days of extreme sports videogames peaked 10 years ago, when games like SSX and Tony Hawk dominated the sales charts and spawned numerous annual sequels. Recent years have told a different story, with the genre virtually absent from any meaningful place in the minds of gamers. After a five year hiatus, EA returns their iconic snowboarding series SSX to the slopes, aiming to resurrect the franchise and present it on this generation of consoles for the very first time. Has the king of snowboarding returned to the throne?

SSX wastes no time tossing you onto its powder-covered slopes, as within seconds of starting the game you find yourself leaping mid-air out of a helicopter and into a brand new world. This world is comprised of nine mountain peaks that span the globe across diverse locations like Siberia, New Zealand, Patagonia, and . . . Africa !?! Yes, places you didn’t think had snow are here and they provide an impressive backdrop to shred in.

You control various boarders culled from an eclectic cast of extreme sports cliches, each with their own comic-book origins backstory. Every stereotype is represented from a spunky redhead who shadowboxes, a runway model who moonlights as a snowboarder, and a spiky-haired slacker dude. A paper-thin “story” is concocted to explain why this gang of misfits are barreling down the slopes; you know, besides the fact that they’re snowboarders and it’s what they do. Apparently their former leader “Griff Simmons” has decided to bail on team SSX leaving them in a bind and forcing them to compete against him on nine slopes. Ultimately, this narrative is useless and merely exists as a backdrop to entice you to play through World Tour mode. Why would you need enticing? I’ll get to that in a minute.

The strongest part of SSX is the sheer number of things to do at any given time; with nine mountain ranges and 153 drops (locations you can start from on the mountain) you’ll never get bored because of lack of variety. Choosing where to put your time in can be overwhelming initially as the first half-hour or so hits you with so much information that you don’t know where to start.

SSX Review PS3 Screenshot

Griff Simmons, jackass extraordinaire!

 

World Tour is your basic story mode where you unlock new characters, areas, and level up your boarders so they have a better chance across all modes. Like I mentioned earlier, the story isn’t the draw here, but you’re introduced to the basics of the new SSX like the wingsuit, a device that lets you glide in the air above chasms. Each time you complete an event you’re awarded experience points that can be spent on better gear and new outfits in a store.

Explore mode is likely where you’ll spend much of your time long term and is comprised of 100+ events. There are three different types of events featured: Race It, Trick It, and Survive It. The first two are traditional modes that you would expect to find in SSX; Race It is a standard race down a mountain against A.I. opponents, and Trick It challenges you to earn the highest score amongst a group of boarders by performing combos and tricks.

The biggest shakeup to the SSX formula though are the Survive It events, which are dubbed Deadly Descents. Acting something like a boss fight, these events throw life-threatening obstacles at you while you speed down the mountain with your only goal being to reach the bottom alive. These white-knuckle runs are filled with multiple near-death experiences, involving anything from an avalanche and stalactites to volcanic pits of lava.

Deadly Descents suffer from two fatal problems: 1) They’re brutally difficult, requiring numerous failed attempts to complete, and 2) They’re not very fun. Irritating and cheap gameplay tactics, like pitch black tracks and slopes that crumble away beneath you, put these events firmly in the “more trouble than they’re worth” category. EA Canada seems to be well aware of this, presenting you with the option to skip them after a number of failed attempts, something they likely conceived during focus-testing. Listen EA, anytime you’ve convinced people to give up playing your game, something needs reworking. Thankfully, these events aren’t the sole focus of the entire game, and they ARE skippable so you can tolerate as much or as little of them as you want.

SSX Review Deadly Descents Screenshot

Have fun riding IN THE FREAKIN' DARK!

 

The soul of any extreme sports game lies in the feel of it’s controls, and SSX offers several different control schemes to choose from. The default setup uses the right analog stick to pull off tricks, though you have the option of using the face buttons instead. I found the button setup to be the most responsive and the easiest for me to use, something I learned after stumbling to master timing and execution with the right stick setup. It just never felt “right” to me. You also have a classic control setup for old-school SSX fans who want to play it the way they know and love.

Another modern gameplay inclusion is the rewind button, which lets you rewind over your mistakes and try your luck again similar to The Prince of Persia and Forza 4. You’re penalized by having points taken off your final score tally, but it’s a small pittance compared to retrying a complete run just because you fell off a mountain at the last 30 seconds.

Online play in SSX comes in two flavors: Global Events and RiderNet. Global Events feature drop-in / drop-out play where you can shred alongside other real-life players though different events. Here you compete for a community pot of credits and your performance dictates how much you receive at the end of your run.

The other form of multiplayer, RiderNet, takes obvious inspiration from Need for Speed Hot Pursuit’s Autolog system and allows you to compete against your friends on “your own time” by letting you race ghosts of people on your friend’s list. Whether you beat your friends or not, you earn in-game credits, although you earn significantly more when you win. This is a fun concept that makes every run down the mountain feel important, although it’s predicated on having several friends who also play SSX regularly.

SSX Review Ghost Screenshot

My best friend is a ghost

 

Disappointingly, SSX lacks a traditional online racing mode that lets you compete head to head in races with strangers and friends. While it’s nice comparing scores and times with friends when they aren’t online, what about when they are? How something like this was omitted is inexcusable in today’s world of competitive gaming.

The SSX games have always been known for their rocking soundtrack and this one is no exception featuring recognizable artists like The Qemists, The Naked and Famous, The Hives, and DJ Shadow among others. Whatever genre of music you’re into, it’s represented here. You also can listen to your own custom playlist of songs stored on your console’s hard drive. Whenever you enter Tricky mode, a dub-step remix of Run-DMC’s “It’s Tricky” blasts away, giving a nod to SSX’s lineage.

The Verdict

For all it’s complexity and nine mountains with 153 events, SSX still doesn’t deliver the two main things I wanted, arcade gameplay and competitive online. After being away for half a decade, SSX has returned in name, although some of the whimsy from the older games is lost in this reboot. The online offerings of RiderNet are cool, but the game still feels incomplete without traditional online racing.

For the most part, EA Canada have crafted a entertaining experience that will satisfy series fans and newcomers alike looking for addictive arcade gameplay. SSX is the best snowboarding game in a long time and it fills a void lacking this generation.

Review Score: 7 out of 10

SSX is available now for the Xbox 360 and PS3.

Assassin’s Creed 3 Leaked Screenshots

Assassin's Creed 3 Screenshot 1

The Assassin’s Creed 3 leaks have been flowing steady the past few days, first with an image of the game’s main character, then with Ubisoft unveiling the game’s official boxart. Today five alleged screenshots showed up on Reddit and they appear to be the real deal. You be the judge.

Assassin's Creed 3 Screenshot 2

Assassin's Creed 3 Screenshot 3

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Assassin's Creed 3 Screenshot 5

Awesomenauts To Feature Splitscreen Co-op

The upcoming multiplayer online battle arena game Awesomenauts will feature local splitscreen co-op when the game arrives according to Ronimo Games. The splitscreen feature will let up to three players join together on a single console compete against opponents in online multiplayer matches. An offline practice mode also exists to let your team perfect their skills against A.I. bots before taking on foes online.

Awesomenauts is currently in the final stages of development and should be arriving in the next few weeks on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network.

Still love that awesome theme song.

Assassin’s Creed 3 Box Art Revealed

Assassin's Creed 3 Xbox 360 Box Art

Hot off yesterday’s leak of the main character of Assassin’s Creed 3, Ubisoft have gone ahead and unveiled the Xbox 360 box art for the game.

I guess this officially confirms the American Revolution as the game’s time period. Can’t wait!

Bioshock Infinite Gets A Release Date

Bioshock Infinite LogoIrrational Games long-awaited Bioshock Infinite will be flying to store shelves on October 16 in North America and October 19 Internationally according to 2K.

Here’s what Creative Director Ken Levine has to say about it:

“After BioShock, we had a vision for a follow up that dwarfed the original in scope and ambition, BioShock Infinite has been our sole focus for the last four years, and we can’t wait for fans to get their hands on it.”

Assassin’s Creed 3 Main Character Leaked

Assassin's Creed 3 Leaked Main Character

This is the protagonist of Assassin’s Creed III, according to a Best Buy internal memo which was leaked to Kotaku earlier today.

The game has long been rumored to take place during the American Revolutionary War and this all but confirms it. If you look closely at this image you can see the character appears to be of Native American origins and as evidenced by the tomahawk, bow and arrow, headdress, and necklace. Also, check out the Revolutionary pistol he’s sporting in his right hand.

We’ll find out for sure next Monday when Ubisoft is scheduled to make a “major announcement” regarding Assassin’s Creed. I wonder what it will be?