Game Console

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Why Microsoft’s Kinect Is the Next Big Thing In Gaming

My issues with motion gaming have prompted me to turn my back on the Wii. In fact, I haven’t even seen my Wii in well over a year, since it’s been sitting in my closet with the rest of the obsolete and boring consoles I’ve bought over the years.

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Sony’s PlayStation Move is similarly useless to me. The wands add no value to my gaming experience and as far as I’m concerned, should be relegated to the junk heap in the PlayStation 4.

And now, we move to the Kinect. I’ve said here before that while the Kinect comes with a really cool technology, I’m not a fan of the peripheral. I do, however, acknowledge — like the Wii — that there are some people out there that see some value in a product like the Kinect.

But what saddens me is that Microsoft’s motion-gaming peripheral is, well, the next big thing in gaming.

Microsoft is doubling down on the Kinect. A software development kit that allows PC software developers to take advantage of the device’s technology is in the wild, and there is a very good chance that it might also become the go-to device for laptops.

In the beginning, that might mean PC gaming will be enhanced, but I can also see the device becoming a useful accessory for those developing other programs across a wide array of industries, including medical, manufacturing, and retail.

But it’s that gaming element that keeps holding me up.

According to the latest rumors, it’s possible Microsoft will launch the Xbox 720 with a Kinect camera built into the console. What’s more, there is some speculation that Sony might try to find a way to come close to matching the Kinect’s controller-less functionality.

Add that to the fact that the Kinect is selling exceedingly well and it quickly becomes clear that it could very well be Microsoft’s ticket to gaming dominance in the coming years.

I hate to say it, but the Microsoft Kinect is the next big thing in gaming. It’s already changed how console makers think, and it’s well on its way to transforming Windows PCs. But it’s the fact that it might play an even greater role in the next generation that’s enough to make me cringe


20 ways to max out your Xbox 360

December’s launch ofthe Metro dashboard has finally propelled 360 into the world of the set-top box.

A good thing? You decide. What’s certain is that the huge volume of media, software and general clutter on Xbox Live has demanded much of this new interface, which in turn demands a fair bit of you. Consider this a survival guide, then, for the console’s latest reincarnation.

SAVE ONLINE

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What you need The new Metro dashboard, a Gold account, and a broadband internet connection.

 

Why do it? Take your saves anywhere and make any Xbox your own.

Cloud saving is one of the best new features of Xbox Live and another good reason to go Gold – among other really useful things, it takes the pain out of playing on other people’s machines. Go to System->Storage->Cloud Saved Games to set it up. You’ll get 512mb of online space that you can use just like a normal memory card orhard drive. Useful.

ALERT FRIENDS

 

Click to view larger imageWhat you need The new Metro dashboard, multiple multiplayer games, some friends

 

Why do it? Play the online games you want to play

Hate hanging around waiting for people to get ready? Just nudge to the Beacons tab and choose a game or activity to alert your friends or social network. Xbox will then alert you when they’re sorted. Jump into the Xbox Guide and select Beacons & Activity.

SILENT DASH

 

Click to view larger imageWhat you need The new Metro dashboard, an inclination towards peace and quiet

 

Why do it? Make your dashboard STFU

If the sound effects sound a bit too much like someone mouth-breathing in your ear – all that swooshing in and out of categories – you can turn them off by going to Console Settings->Audio->Sound Effects.

CONTROL YOUR XBOX ANYWHERE

 

Click to view larger imageWhat you need The new Metro dash, a phone running Windows Phone 7

 

Why do it? Control your Xbox from anywhere in your home

The Windows Phone 7 Xbox Companion App isn’t quite as full-on as PS3′s Remote Play. The app is free to install from the Windows Phone Marketplace. Link it to your 360 via the Console Settings->Xbox Companion menu.

PLAY ANY VIDEO

 

Click to view larger imageWhat you need A semi-decent PC, freebie PC application TVersity, and some videos in irregular formats to play.

 

Why do it? Watch popular video formats the 360 wouldn’t ordinarily support.

Xbox 360 and PS3 are in the same boat when it comes to supporting media formats: neither manufacturer is comfortable supporting them all. For 360, though, you can use PC app Tversity (www.tversity.com) to ‘transcode’ any video file before streaming it to 360 for playback. It’s a bit fiddly at first, and requires a wired connection and hefty horsepower for HD, but it works.

USE EXTERNAL HARD DRIVES

 

Click to view larger imageWhat you need An external hard drive or USB memory stick

 

Why do it? Take your saves anywhere without the cloud

A USB hard drive or pen-drive is readable by 360, but only if it’s formatted to the FAT32 or HFS+ file systems rather than the more common NTFS. Only Mac format HFS+ allows files of over 4gb.

RESKIN YOUR DASHBOARD

 

Click to view larger imageWhat you need The new Metro dashboard, an artistic spirit, some spare cash for new themes

 

Why do it? Take control over your Xbox’s appearance

360′s dashboards have always been a bit counter intuitive when it comes to Theme settings and the like. In Metro it’s buried beneath your avatar in the Social section, with your Achievements.

SEARCH EVERYTHING

 

Click to view larger imageWhat you need The new Metro dash, an internet connection, Kinect

 

Why do it? Explore stacks of Xbox content with ease

The world of Xbox is so rich/polluted with promo items and DLC that a search engine is now essential. Enter Bing, which looks up games, videos, apps and other content through pad, keyboard or Kinect. You can filter the results into categories when they appear. It’s the leftmost menu option in the Metro user interface (UI).

BLOCK ADS

 

Click to view larger imageWhat you need Admin access to your router or modem, minor tech savvy

 

Why do it? Remove Microsoft’s ads from the front page

Being advertised to on a paid subscription service chafes a little. If it’s bothering you so much that you’d rather just have placeholder pictures scattered throughout the dashboard, the option’s there if your router supports it. Go to your router’s ‘block list’ and add rad.msn.com.

NOTIFICATIONS

 

Click to view larger imageWhat you need Enough friends to make the constant status updates annoying.

 

Why do it? Watch movies and play games in peace

Getting hacked off by irrelevant messages? Let’s turn off those pesky notifications. Bring up the Xbox Guide and go to Settings->Preferences->Notifications, then untick the Show During Movies option. Or, if you want to disable them everywhere, just untick the parent Show Notifications option.


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PSP Vita @ X-Cite

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For Video Games lovers, you can Pre-Order the long awaited Device, Sony PSP Vita @ X-Cite.

The device is released in two versions, Wi-Fi & 3G.

The prices announced by X-Cite are, 147KD for 3G and 120KD for Wi-Fi.

You can Pre-Order online by visiting their website here


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Microsoft Reveals the Most played 360 Games of 2011

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The most played Xbox 360 game of 2011 will surprise absolutely no one. Neither will the second or the third, for that matter.

The list, released on Major Nelson’s blog today, covers the top twenty games played by Xbox Live users (Silver and Gold) during 2011. These numbers are based on unique users, rather than total accumulated playtime, otherwise I suspectthat game with the dragons and the arrows might have ranked a little higher.

Call of Duty dominates the top of the chart with its three most-recent installments. Halo: Reach, Battlefield 3 and Skyrim ranked fourth, fifth and sixth respectively. The two latest FIFA games outdid Madden by a hair, so Europeans can get their smug on, should they so wish.

The list in full:

  1. Call of Duty: Black Ops
  2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
  3. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  4. Halo: Reach
  5. Battlefield 3
  6. Skyrim
  7. Gears of War 3
  8. FIFA 12
  9. FIFA Soccer 11
  10. Madden NFL 12
  11. GTA IV
  12. NBA 2K11
  13. Battlefield: Bad Co. 2
  14. Call of Duty 4
  15. Battlefield 3 Beta
  16. Halo 3
  17. Gears of War 2
  18. Forza Motorsport 4
  19. Red Dead Redemption
  20. Call of Duty: World at War

According to the other lists on the blog, Pinball FX2Full House Poker and the, seemingly immortal, Castle Crashers were the best selling Arcade games, while a pair of shameless Minecraft knock-offs took first and second place in the indie rankings.


The Best PlayStation 3 Ad We’ve Ever Seen Will Give You Chills

When Sony announced their "Long Live Play" campaign a few weeks back, the entire interwebs lit up with buzz as to what it would herald. A PlayStation Home re-launch? New on Vita? Now, weeks of speculation have come to this, the "Michael" advert: a parade of first-class characters from the best games available on the PS3. You’ve got your Nathan Drake, Cole McGrath and some Chimera aliens from Insomniac’s Resistance games all cheering the humble player who, in essence, brought them all to life.

So, while there may be some disappointment that the ad doesn’t herald any big platform developments for the PS3, let’s at least glory in the high production values and pitch-perfect character moments that the "Michael" video offers. Makes you want to change your name, doesn’t it?


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Uncharted 3 Bigger than 50GB Blu-ray Disc

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The old adage states, the bigger the better. Developer Naughty Dog’s critically acclaimed Unchartedseries is returning to PlayStation 3 with Drake’s Deception this fall in extra large fashion. Naughty Dog community manager Arne Meyer has shared some details about what it is like to be a PS3 exclusive developer, as well as the fact that Uncharted 3 is currently too big.

Speaking at gamescom about being PS3 exclusive, Meyer told NowGamer:

I think it really helps. It’s not even about sales. It’s about what we can push on the platform and how far we can take it. I’m sure you’ll hear this from every other Sony developer but you know, I can’t tell you how much we’ve been able to optimise Cell and you know, the amount of content we can put on Blu-ray.

When asked about Uncharted 3?s current data size Meyer stated:

Uncharted 2 barely made it to 25GB, while Naughty Dog is going over 50GB this time, for Uncharted 3. But in the end we’ll be under 50. We’ll be one disc.

Obviously, there is some serious compression that is still going to take place to ensure the game will ship one one disc this November.


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Smartphones In 2015 To Be As Powerful As Xbox 360; iPhone 8 Could Be Your Next Gaming Console

Smartphones are getting ridiculously powerful, folks. The smartphones we carry today in our pockets are more powerful than the computers used to launch the first spaceship back in the 1960s, this, is while these smartphones are mostly being used to launch pissed off birds at evil pigs.

The rate at which their power is increasing is phenomenal in itself. With every release of the iPhone, for example, we see almost a 2x or 4x increase in performance over the previous generation. If this performance increase keeps repeating itself, soon we will see smartphones overpowering 7th generation gaming consoles such as the PS3 and X360, so says the President of a popular game development studio.

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We’re already hearing news from mobile CPU manufacturers like Nvidia, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments regarding quad-core SoCs which are expected to start reaching higher-end smartphones by the end of next year or sometime in 2013.

In an interview with Industry GamersMike Capps (President, Epic Games) had the following to say regarding the topic in question:

“So I think that’s the real challenge for us now, rather than worrying about the difference between a couple consoles and some order of magnitude, whether 3X or 4X. It’s about how do we deal with iPhone 8… if you watch where the gamers are going that’s where they are. Your iPhone 8 will probably plug into your TV, or better yet, wirelessly connect to your television set to give you that big screen gaming experience with good sound. So really, what’s the point of those next-gen consoles? It’s a very interesting situation to be looking at. That’s what we’re starting to think about more… not how do we scale from some Nintendo platform to some other future console,” he concluded.

CEO at EA John Riccitiello has somewhat similar views regarding the explosion of the mobile gaming industry when he stated, just over a week ago, that the iPad is the company’s fastest growing game platform and that, “Consoles used to be 8-% of the industry as recently as 2000. Consoles today are 40% of the game industry.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the next generation consoles are pointless. The PlayStation 4 or the Xbox 720 will certainly be miles upon miles ahead of whatever gaming experience the iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S III will provide. What Capps is referring to is how things will change, with a focus on mobile gaming, in the coming years.

I, for one, can’t wait till I can launch raging birds at wicked pigs at 2160p.


PS4 Not Coming “For Some Time”, Says Sony

Despite letting slip a few details to the contrary in a recent investor meeting, which were, to be fair, later brushed aside as referring to the PlayStation Vita, Sony says it’s new home console is still a long way coming. And honestly, having had a look at what the Wii U is bringing to the table, it’s pretty hard to argue. Not to mention that Sony even has a line of PlayStation tablets coming out soon.

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The Wii U, Nintendo’s next console (video)

Coming in 2012, Nintendo’s next home console will deliver “deeper game experiences” that aim to offer “something for everyone.” And it’ll be called the Wii U! A variety of new controls will be made available by that crazy new controller with a 6.2-inch touchscreen embedded in it. Most importantly, you’ll no longer be tied to a TV to enjoy your home consoling action — the Wii U controller can handle your gaming session when the television is needed for other purposes, while a built-in front-facing cam will let you video chat from anywhere too. Notably, you won’t have to use the 6.2-inch behemoth if you don’t want too — the Wii U will be compatible with all current-gen accessories and software. Yes, your expansive Wii collection will play on the U version of the console as well. We’ve also seen some decidedly high-def visuals from Nintendo showing off the Wii U’s graphical prowess. See video of the unveiling after the break!

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Microsoft’s Kinect-based UI for XBL has Bing voice search across Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, and live TV

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Quick refreshing of Microsoft’s E3 landing page has apparently revealed some of the things it will be announcing within a couple of hours at its E3 press conference, including new features for Xbox Live like Voice Search and new look for the service. With the explosive popularity of the Kinect add-on, it looks like the system is being refashioned with support built in from the ground up as opposed to the current menu system that’s more of an afterthought. Also mentioned on the page are Dance Central 2Kinect Sports Season 2 and most importantly, two new Halo games. One is Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary which appears to be the HD (& possibly 3D) remake leaked by Joystiq previously, while the other is Halo 4 — no explanation needed. We’ll surely find out everything when the press conference kicks off live at 12:30 p.m. Eastern and of course we’ll be covering all of the news live right here.

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