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  1. Michael Jordan, Brett Favre, and now, Cliff Bleszinski. The greats can't stay away for long. Yesterday, Cliffy B announced via Twitter that he was coming out of retirement to work on video games once more. While his upcoming project has yet to be revealed, he said to expect more info sometime over the next seven days. In addition, he teased that he cannot wait for fans to hear the story of what brought him back into the industry. Bleszinski is best known for his work on Gears of War and Unreal Tournament. What do you think Cliffy B's next game will be?
  2. Oh Microsoft, what will become of you? Having decided to do brief research it has occurred to me that a handful of games and information have since been leaked. As such, it is important at the outset to understand the direction this list is under. I will instead utilize this space to focus on what we know about Microsoft's press conference and what I predict (e.g. games, ideas, attitude, etc). While this is a predictions list in some sense, I am expecting to strike out on some—although I am hoping for the best. Further, each prediction will be annexed with a exposition that is roughly, for the sake of brevity, one paragraph in length. And without further adieu, here are GP's predictions for Microsoft's press conference. Halo 5: Guardians It's no surprise to Halo fans that the latest title has been delayed—after all, regardless of who is working on them there tends to be a three year gap between each subsequent release. Despite its new 2015 release window, Microsoft needs Halo to be at the fore of every gamer's thought. As a result, its appearance is inevitable, but I believe we can expect to see—or at least hear about—an emphasis on the game's multiplayer. Gears of War: Lazarus By way of the leak back in May, Lazarus is one of the many titles rumored to be revealed at Microsoft's E3. Rumor or not, it certainly makes sense for both Microsoft and the Xbox One. The original Gears is the fifth best-selling Xbox 360 title. Its successor, Gears of War 2, was the seventh best selling video game of 2009. Gears of War 3 sold over three million copies within its first week—higher than the previous two games—and helped the franchise, according to Microsoft, earn over one billion dollars worldwide. Money, money, and more money. As the possibly controversial name implies, the game is rumored to reboot the series as a means of effectively restoring the Gears series on the Xbox One. Sunset Overdrive Admittedly, I forgot this game existed until I sat down and did some research for this article. It's an open world third-person shooter developed by the team at Insomniac Games. Per usual new IP tradition the game will feature agile combat that promotes wallrunning, zip-lines, and other parkour influenced shenanigans in a world that heeds verticality. If last year's E3 trailer is anything to go by, the game's aesthetic mirrors that of, dare I say, Serious Sam in both its presentation and violence. Forza Horizon 2 No one asked for it, or even expected it, but Horizon 2 is very much a thing. Two different teams will be developing and releasing the title on both the Xbox 360 and Xbox One respectively. The game will take place in Europe and is once again music-centric. Further, Horizon 2 will finally introduce the long awaited weather system into the Forza franchise . I look forward to rally racing in the rain, provided of course this is not also an option in Forza 6... because I would rather be doing it there... Fable Legends Considering how fun, but disappointing the last two entries have been, I am weary of growing excited over yet another Fable game and yet here I am swooning. Details on the game are relatively scarce, but it is a co-operative focused action-RPG. To be fair, what else does one need to know? Gamers can take control using the Kinect, but Lionhead is focusing on controller-based gameplay. With the Kinect one will be able to utilize voice commands when he or she takes control of a villain with the aim of conquering one of the game's hero through the use of ordering minions around. A beta is set to launch this year and I would not be surprised if a date is given at E3. Identification: The Three (3) C's of Marketing I often compare the state of Microsoft and the Xbox One to my High School years—lost, identity searching, and fumbling about between different clicks and personalities. As a result, I feel somewhat sympathetic toward them. Last year's E3 was a disaster for Microsoft and over the course of past year, like good little boys and girls, they have done their best—by means of reversing and re-reversing statements made during E3 2013—to clean up after themselves. As a result it would appear as if Microsoft has no idea what the Xbox One is. Subsequently, I have no idea what the Xbox One is. Does anyone? Is it an inclusive media machine or is it a gaming hub—is it both, can it be? If their regular, almost laughable, flipfloppery proves anything, it is that Microsoft knows that this year they must be clear, concise, and consistent. If not for the sake of appealing to gamers—their market—then I expect them to abide by these rules so that the worries of their stockholders are subdued. Crackdown 3 The original Crackdown was released in 2007 and by the end of the year sold one and a half (1.5) million copies worldwide—I mean how else was anyone going to get into the Halo 3 beta? Brilliant marketing aside, the game was incredibly enjoyable and received favorable reviews. Its sequel was released in 2010 and while sales are harder to disclose, it too was welcomed and enjoyed. It would seem appropriate for Microsoft to bring the game to the Xbox One for a variety of reasons. Open world games are becoming as prolific as the FPS—OK, so this is maybe an overstatement. At any rate, Crackdown was/is the ultimate open world game because it promoted the use of superpowers and co-operative play. While this prediction is perhaps more along the lines of wishful thinking, I believe now—and not later, for various reasons perhaps to be divulged at a later date—is the perfect time to announce a new Crackdown title. Indie Games (& Project Spark) It is no secret that Microsoft and Xbox in general have had issues in the past with indie game developers. However, all that has supposedly been pushed aside with the Xbox One. I expect to see more information about Project Spark—a program that essentially lets players become developers and create their own indie titles. I also would not be surprised if Microsoft showed off Below, Gunscape, and Wulverblade as part of an upcoming indie game montage to further cement the new ideologies of the company. Rare Microsoft has within their possession one of the most adamantly adored development teams. If recollection serves, this relationship is somewhat obscure and involves some odd, poorly explained, use of the Kinect. I am not sure whose idea this union was, but I suspect that to—like all things Microsoft E3 2013—be undone. It is such that I predict we see a new IP from Rare, or in the least some sort of HD remake of a classic. Who knows, maybe it will have some Kinect-based voice commands and optional motion controls. It would most certainly be amusing to, while playing a potentially new Conker game, shout profanity and perform obscenities in the direction of my television. At any rate, Microsoft has a unique team on their hands; a team that in the long run will convince non-Xbox gamers to buy the One. It only makes sense for them to put them forward and into the fray. What predictions do you have for Microsoft's conference? Let us know in the comments below!
  3. Dominic Dimanche

    Microsoft Gains Gears of War IP from Epic

    In an epic acquisition (pun intended), Microsoft Studios picked up the rights to the Gears of War series from Epic games. With this, Microsoft will be heading development for any present and future projects in the Gears of War franchise. It was also announced that the team manning production will be Black Tusk studios, formerly Microsoft Vancouver. While this shift of management has a lot of new changes, one member of the old guard will still be part of production. Rod Fergusson, former Director of Production at Epic Games on the Gears of War series will be playing a “key studio leadership role ” in Black Tusk. In addition to this, Black Tusk also announced they have a AAA title in the works for the Xbox One as of June 2013. Could it possibly be a new Gears of War title? One can only surmise. But in the meantime, we will just have to wait and see when this pickup will bear fruit.
  4. Developer: People Can Fly/Epic Games Publisher: Epic Games/Microsoft Studios Format: Xbox 360 Release Date: 22/03/2013 Gears of War Judgement is the fourth title set in the Gears universe, and takes place 30 days after the Locusts emerge from underground and try to take over the surface (colloquially known as E-Day). This time however the focus is put upon Baird, as he was the only one who really didn't get that much of a spotlight in Gears 3. In Judgement, Baird is still a lieutenant, and is leading a group called Kilo squad which is made up of himself, a much younger Cole, Onyx cadet Sofia Hendrik, and Garron Paduk, former major in the Union of Independent Republics (who the COG were fighting in the Pendulum Wars before the Locust arrived). Single Player/Campaign: The campaign starts off with Baird and the other members of Kilo squad being out on trial for disobeying orders. The orders they disobeyed are yet unclear and the game play is through flashbacks as the story unfolds through each members recollection. The story line is broken up into sections reminiscent of Arcade Mode in Gears 3. There are three stars in the corner of the screen that you have to fill up through killing Locusts and increase the speed of filling up the bar in the different ways you kill them such as an execution or gibing them (one hit kill). You also get penalised for each time you go 'down but not out'. Once you have completed a section you press up on the d-pad to continue where a summary screen comes up telling you how good/bad you have done. The Declassified options do make the game more challenging! In each section there is a 'declassified' option which gives extra intel into the story and gives players an extra challenge. These challenges can be either having to complete the section in a certain time frame, only being able to use certain weapons, extra enemies to fight or certain objectives added. These certainly help to give the game more challenge and veteran Gears players will jump at the opportunity to complete these before they have unlocked the Insane difficulty (I know I did). They also help you accumulate stars quicker, the more stars you collect the more content you unlock which includes an extra mission set during Gears 3 where Baird reunites with Kilo squad. Overall the story feels a bit lacklustre. It is an enjoyable ride and veteran Gears players will enjoy Baird getting his own story, but it always seems to meander, staying on the same line & never deviating until you get to the rather disappointing boss fight against General Karn (Queen Mira must have had a plethora of generals). Every Gears game has had parts and locations where you felt that more in depth context could have been used and a bit of back story was needed. Instead the setting of the level was mainly a situational backdrop for the characters to get through. This feels like that all the way through which is disappointing. The arcade break up of each segment really doesn't help to engross you into the story either. You'll learn more about these characters from the character select for multiplayer then from playing the campaign! When you collect enough stars you will unlock 'Aftermath' which is a little tidbit that explains what Cole, Baird & Carmine were doing while Marcus, Dom, Sam & Anya were trying to get to Azura. They meet up with the rest of Kilo squad & you find out what happens to the characters in Judgement after Halvo Bay. It's a fun short mission, but its more in the style of Gears 3. It can feel a bit odd and it does make you realise how better designed the amply was in 3. Case in point, the movement in Judgement is more "chunky" as it were. There's more of a delay coming out of a roadie run or a combat roll, whereas in 3 it was much smoother (ample's really hard to describe to someone who hasn't played it). The controls have changed for Judgement swell. You no longer use the d-pad for selecting your weapons as now you are relegated to only having two weapons instead of three. You switch weapons with Y and the grenade button has changed to LB and tac-com is now down on the d-pad. This does take some getting used to as I did keep throwing grenades away when trying to find out where my teamates were (this happened alot in multiplayer). The multiplayer has always been a staple of the Gears franchise and has always had its own identity. However the new set up does dramatically change things up. As mentioned earlier the amount of weapons has changed & in multiplayer its changed more dramatically. Instead of the option of 2 weapons, you only get the choice of one with your snub pistol taking the other slot. This isn't too jarring as you can pick up weapons that players drop and ones spread about the map, but every Gears game has struggled to try and stop each match being a gnasher shotgun fest (hence why the sawed off was introduced in 3), but most matches I played had everyone running around with the gnasher. What also made this annoying is that the gnasher is very inconsistent in terms of power. Active reloads only happen in the campaign, but the gnasher can have you one shot killing someone one moment then having someone take 3+ shots up close the next. Its very frustrating and shouldn't have been an issue as it could have easily taken the patched version from 3. Also if you weren't a fan of the sawed-off in 3, then I've got bad news for you. It's back, and this time it has two bullets per clip instead of one. Free-For-All is a great addition to the multiplayer! Does not make up for lack of modes though! There are only 4 modes in multiplayer: Overrun, Free-for-all, Domination and Team Death match. Overrun is a new feature where a team of COG have to defend certain positions against a team of locust. There are different classes on both sides and this is definitely the best thing about the game. Free-for-all is the first non team game in Gears and is frantic and fun. Domination takes away the uniqueness of the previous Annex mode, and does it more CoD style 3 bases to capture/defend. Team Death match has also had its identity taken away as its now just another run of the mill 1st team to so many points, compared to the (better in my opinion) mode in Gears 3. Overrun is definitely the best thing about the multiplayer. One of the reasons is because its the only mode where you can play as the Locust. For some reason you can no longer play as the Locust (farewell Theron Guard), this has a dramatic effect on the amount of characters to choose from. There are about 9 characters (10 if you pre-ordered), 4 of which are available from the start and the rest you have to unlock. Two of which are just re-skins of other characters, which is just lazy. I'm sure more characters are coming later but they've already been planned and could have easily been put into the game. You do get to customise your character with different skins that you can unlock or purchase. There are some good stuff in the game. You can pretty much jump from any platform now which can hep the dynamic of a match. Some of the new weapons are pretty neat, the spot and stim grenades are a great addition and give some variety to grenade tactics. Overrun is definitely the most addictive of the multiplayer modes! Survivor mode is a new addition and is the replacement for Horde mode. Its a mixture of Overrun and horde. The structure is the same as Overrun, where you have to defend e-holes and then a generator if you fail to protect the e-holes. You have to try and survive for 10 waves, with each wave increasing the strength of the type of enemies. This is one where its best to work with your friends as you really need to play as a team as the computer is relentless. Its very challenging and I have yet to get to wave 10 (damn wretches). Overall I felt very disappointed in Judgement. The previous games have always had a lot of content and in comparison Judgement feels very thin. There's only 4 multiplayer maps, too few characters, and a sense that everything has been scaled back. There are some frame rate issues aswell if there is to much stuff on screen. The only thing that seems to have evolves from Gears 3 is the micro transactions. There are plenty of choices in weapon & character skins but about 75% of them require you to pay for them. I know its only cosmetic but with the lack of character choice its really aggravating, and the cost is ludicrous at 300 MS points for each character skin. The multiplayer has its own feel but has lost its identity by utilising and transforming 'Gears' own take on modes back into what thy are in COD or Halo. The multiplayer fights remind me of Halo where if players see each other they throw grenades and then shoot. The short development time the game had is blatantly obvious. If you're a big Gears fan chances are you've already got it and I“m fighting with/against you now. If you're not however I would recommend waiting for a price drop. This feels more like an expansion pack then a fully fledged game and is definitely not worth the full asking price! 6/10
  5. In this day and age, it's almost impossible to keep content from being proliferated freely online. Even games with the fanciest copy protection still tend to get broken and pirated quickly enough. However, it's most depressing when a high profile game sees release for pirates a month before launch. This is what has now happened to Gears of War: Judgment. In a response to Eurogamer, a Microsoft spokesperson said the following: "We are aware of isolated cases in which Gears of War: Judgment content has been propped on the web and are working closely with our security teams and law enforcement to address the situation immediately. Consumers should be aware that piracy is illegal and we take vigorous action against illegal activity related to our products and services. Playing pirated copies of games, such as Gears of War: Judgment, is a violation of the Xbox Live Terms of Use and will result in enforcement action, such as account and console bans." In the case of their property leaking so early it makes sense that they are getting into gear to ban users. Thankfully, these actions will only harm those who have pirated content and should not affect any innocent users by accident. How does a game get out a month early? If a developer didn't sneakily take the game home, it's entirely possible that some journalist out there with a preview copy did something tremendously naughty.
  6. Gears of War: Judgment, the prequel to the popular shooter series, is out in just a few months. It will be the fourth game in the series, but not all fans have played them from the start. In fact, according to Epic Games, half of gamers who played Gears of War 3 had never played the original. Fans taking interest in games at later iterations is nothing new, but Epic is now offering a bonus for those players. All launch copies of Gears of War: Judgment will come with a token to redeem the original Gears of War on Games on Demand. This requires an Xbox Live account, although it doesn't matter whether it is Silver or Gold. The download checks in at at 6.3GB download and has a value of $20, although it is easy to find the game for much cheaper. This bonus is included with all regions except for Germany. You may remember that Gears of War was not even sold there due to its laws in regards to game violence. Gears of War: Judgment will be out on March 19th.
  7. Update: The full release date has been announced as March 19, 2013. Original story: Epic director of production Rod Fergusson has confirmed to IGN that Gears of War: Judgment now officially has a release window: March 2013. No specific date was given just yet, but the full release date is expected to be announced at the Gears of War: Judgment panel at Comic Con later today. The game was originally announced at Microsoft's pre-E3 press conference and is a prequel to the first three games in development by People Can Fly (who also developed Bulletstorm). Judgment will cover the events that happened to Cole, Baird, and the rest of Kilo Squad after they're arrested for treason. Stay tuned for the full release date later on today.