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Halo Live-Action Series In The Works, Steven Spielberg On Board

Halo is apparently set for a live-action incarnation...just not on the big screen as years of rumors and speculation seemed to indicate. Microsoft's big unveiling today of its new console, Xbox One (an event which, if we still had a staff of videogame journalists, we would have been ALL over) would come with kind of a non-gaming surprise. Directorial deity, Steven Spielberg appeared via video to reveal that he will be involved as executive producer with a live-action Halo TV series, which be available exclusively through Xbox One with the next-gen system's streaming-centric hardware.

Certainly, the Xbox One presentation came across as the debut of a fancy, elaborate, voice-operated streaming TV box that happens to play videogames, if you are so inclined. It's clear that Microsoft really, REALLY wants their hardware to be the centerpiece of your living room. Now, with the announcement of this Spielberg-headed Halo series as the apparent flagship of Xbox Live's broader, quasi-Netflix business model, their intentions have never been more clear. Additionally, the console will distinguish itself from the established streaming services by supplementing shows like the upcoming Halo with interactive content.

As for Halo's live-action possibilities, the games have certainly provided all the necessary framework for compelling serial storytelling from humanity's apocalyptic interplanetary wars with zealot alien invaders, The Covenant to the arrival of a shared enemy in the parasitic race, The Flood. The property has certainly come a long way, especially after years upon years of lallygagging which at certain points in time had names like Peter Jackson and Neill Blomkamp seemingly set to helm a potential feature film. Instead, the story of the ultimate high-jumping, Warthog-riding Spartan solider, Master Chief and his sexy hologram helper, Cortana will become the centerpiece of a series which arrives by way of a completely redefining medium. With the series in the reliable hands of Steven Spielberg, who will collaborate with the IP's ever-watchful gatekeepers over at 343 Industries, the potential buzz from this series could, ironically enough, provide THE watershed moment for the upcoming videogame hardware itself.

No timeline has been revealed regarding when the Halo TV series will debut, but the console on which it will manifest, Xbox One, will reportedly debut "later this year." (Translation: "Holiday Shopping Line Madness.")

Gears of War Judgment

Gears of War: Judgment, the 4th game in Epic’s Gears of War franchise, is out this week (Tuesday 3/19) and so far the reviews are mostly positive! Personally I was beginning to tire of the Gears series so it’s great to hear the positive feedback on the new game; most of which complements the tweaks Epic, and co-developer People Can Fly (Bulletstorm), made to the campaign’s structure. Of course, multiplayer is a big part of Gears of War and Judgment’s new mode OverRun is also getting high praise.

Let’s get to the reviews:

Polygon: Gears of War: Judgment provides multiple main player characters for the first time in the series, and each character's point of view and sometimes conflicting motivations for going off-mission are explored enough to flesh them out. People Can Fly do a workmanlike job in building a story that keeps the game moving, doesn't get in the way, and provides for great set pieces that belong, rather than plopping down random bits of bombast.

Those set pieces are oriented around the great, cover-based shooting that's driven all of the Gears of War games so far. You take cover against various surfaces, moving from one position to another with the A button, and aim around corners and the like with the left trigger. In this respect, Gears of War: Judgment is immediately familiar. But it's the additional wings built on top of Gears' now well-established foundation that make things interesting — like the dynamic spawning system. Rather than the static, scripted enemy spawning and positioning of previous Gears games, Gears of War: Judgment adapts to player strategy and play style by mixing up enemy types and tactics based on how you're playing the game.

IGN: Both story and gameplay really come together in the brilliant Declassify system. These optional objectives, which you can activate before most enemy encounters, trigger a challenging variable that handicaps (your) Kilo Squad. If a Declassify variable impairs your vision, adds stronger or more enemies, cuts your ammunition in half, or forces you to use specific weaponry, the way you play the encounter changes dramatically. Each of these awesome combat mods comes with a reasonable narrative conceit, too. An explosion, for instance, may cause a cloudy layer of dust to sweep through the battlefield and reduce your visibility.

Declassified sections also modify another of Judgment’s new wrinkles: the scoring system. Melee executions, explosions, and turning Locust into gibs increases your star rating during each encounter, and activating a Declassify option multiplies the rate at which you earn stars. Leaderboards and arcade scoring are one thing, but this is another of Judgment’s clever ploys to tinker with the way we play Gears. Knowing what scores big points can drive you in a specific direction – if you want to score big, maybe risking an explosive Torque Bow’s limited ammo instead of the Markza sniper rifle’s full clip is worth your while. Judgment’s evaluation of skill is rewarding in its own right, especially when you know you’ve conquered a tough Declassify mission.

Destructoid: This focus on leveling and winning things leads to Judgment's campaign having a lot more of an "arcade" feel than prior installments. Missions are very short, lasting a few minutes at most, which leads to the already basic story feeling segmented. However, the trade-off is a faster, more chaotic, more varied solo and cooperative experience which, coupled with the declassified extras, leads to an altogether different type of Gears that players are used to. Whether fighting in a room covered in thick dust and full of sword-wielding Therons, or defending a position with sentry bots and turrets, Judgment constantly switches things up on the player, and the bite-sized nature of individual missions leads to a feeling of greater replayability.

Eurogamer: What pushes Judgment over the line from "pretty good" to "pretty great" is multiplayer. Not the same old versus matches that have been a staple of the series since 2006, nor the wave-based Survival mode, nor the late addition of a basic free-for-all deathmatch, nor or the King of the Hill variant, Domination. Those are all fine, but standard fare. No, the secret weapon in Judgment's arsenal is OverRun, a hybrid game mode that pulls together the best elements of the series' online play into something epic and satisfying.

At heart, OverRun is a close relation to Battlefield's Rush mode. The COG team is on the defensive, holding back a player-controlled team of Locusts and (hopefully) preventing them from opening sealed Emergence Holes. Fail twice and the humans have to fall back to protect a generator. If the Locusts destroy that, it's all over. Similarly, if the COG can hold the line until the round timer runs out, the Hammer of Dawn fires up and obliterates the monsters.

With a fuss-free class system and tight, well-planned maps, OverRun is Gears multiplayer at its best, combining the strongest elements of deathmatch and survival game types into one nail-biting experience. There's a great balance between frantic action and tactical collaboration, while the addition of some verticality - reachable by the Scout class for sniping duty - subtly changes the ebb and flow. It's a mode where players of any skill level can find room to shine, but only the best will emerge with the medals and ribbons.

Sounds good, right? Is Gears of War: Judgment a day 1 purchase for you? Let me know!

Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag Confirmed By Ubisoft

The rumors are true: Ubisoft's next Assassin's Creed game is called Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag. The publisher confirmed the title and offered a first official look at title art on its Facebook page, promising a more complete reveal on Monday, March 4, 2013, at 12pm ET.

The art jives with leaked materials that were shared by Kotaku earlier this week. One poster offered a look at an Assassin-hooded fellow fighting with what appear to be pirates (a Jolly Roger flag is clearly visible in the background). The reverse side of the poster shows what appears to be a map of the game's world. In related news, All Games Beta shared a trio of box art images that suggest the game is headed to PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii U; the PS3 version apparently includes 60 minutes of exclusive content as well.


Gears of War Judgment

Gears of War: Judgment arrives on March 19, 2013 with a Season Pass in tow. Surprise! (try to act surprised) The "VIP Season Pass" will be available at launch for 1,600 MS Points (which translates to $20 in real life money), and it includes a number of extras on top of the expected DLC subscription.

The DLC isn't detailed in full, but the plans seem to call for two post-release content drops, adding six maps, two modes, and new weapon/armor skins. Along with the DLC, Season Pass holders also get to enjoy early access to the add-on content, a permanent double XP boost for their profile, five exclusive weapon skins, and four exclusive armor skins.





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The final multiplayer DLC pack for Mass Effect 3, called Reckoning, arrives today, February 26, 2013, and a new trailer is here to celebrate the occasion. BioWare livestreamed a look at the content a few days in advance of the release, and one NeoGAF poster took the time to hammer out all of the details, for those who are curious (via Destructoid).

The pack adds six new characters to the game, including a Collector Adept and an oversized Geth Juggernaut Soldier (think Geth Primes). There's also an equally massive hammer-wielding Krogan. The pack also adds six new weapons to the multiplayer mode and an assortment of new equipment that you can use to power up your gear. Check out that NeoGAF post for a full tally of what's been added to ME3's multiplayer for free since launch. It's pretty impressive.

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Need For Speed: Most Wanted DLC Launches Today

If you're still playing Criterion Games' Need for Speed: Most Wanted and you love DLC, then today is going to be your FAVORITE. Electronic Arts just dropped three content packs on PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, amounting to a pair of car five-packs and a chunky, new location to decimate in your supercharged automobile of choice.

The two car packs focus on Movie Legends and Need for Speed Heroes, respectively. The latter brings in rides from Smokey and the Bandit, Fast & Furious, Gone in 60 Seconds, and the James Bond-verse. Legends gathers together whips from various NFS games of old, including NFS3: Hot Pursuit, NFS: Underground, NFS: Underground 2, NFS: Undercover, and the original NFS: Most Wanted from 2005.

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Conan O'Brien's latest Clueless Gamer review for Tomb Raider might have just single-handedly set back the "sexism in games" conversation by 20 years. Watch the entire segment as if it's satire (since it is) and it hurts a little bit less. 

Conan seems to like Lara Croft's latest adventure. He's terrible at PLAYING it, and manages to impale the shipwrecked explorer through the throat numerous times on an unfortunately positioned tree branch. But his review score is... positive? I think? See for yourself.

Crysis 3 Is Out Now - The Reviews Are In!

G4Staff

Posted February 22, 2013 - By G4 Staff




Crysis 3 Is Out Now And The Reviews Are In!

Crysis 3, the 3rd installment of Crytek’s always visually impressive, yet narratively murky, first person shooter series is out now and the game is getting favorable marks across the board.

We’re playing it here (on the Xbox 360) and it looks fantastic. So-so enemy AI seems to be the only thing really holding the single player experience back (although it never ruins the experience). Crysis 3 introduces a lethal compound bow to your arsenal. The bow can kill just about anything in one shot, and it allows you to remain cloaked when firing, so there’s never really any reason to use another weapon. For some, that’s making the game less enjoyable. Me? I feel like the Predator and isn’t that sorta what Crysis is all about? The multiplayer experience, in particular Hunter Mode, is a lot of fun and plays a lot better than the demo did.

We're really enjoying the game and if you’re an FPS fan that’s looking for something to play, this might be the game for you – but don’t just take our word for it:

IGN: “The biggest reason that Crysis 3 is such a consistent joy to play is because its control system is near flawless. The fact that you can quickly augment your weapons with different sights and grips without retreating into menu screens, or the ability to quickly pull out a grenade by double-tapping the weapon-switching button; it all works wonderfully and means there’s never any kind of artificial interface standing in the way of your natural instincts."

Game Informer: “From the gorgeous water effects and global illumination to the detailed character animations and photo-realistic environments, Crysis 3 is one of the best-looking games on the planet. I often found myself activating the cloaking device while in the presence of enemies just to watch a frog hop along the jungle floor or to regard the wind effects on a canvased shipping container."

Game Spot: “Crysis 3 is neither a pure linear shooter in the way popularized by Call of Duty, nor an open-world romp like Far Cry 3. Instead, its levels are sometimes large but always manageable, giving you freedom to put as much room between you and your foes as you like. The nanosuit encourages further experimentation, once again allowing you to activate the aforementioned cloak mode (which renders you invisible) and armor mode (which lets you soak up more damage). And once again, you can leap a good distance should you wish to reach higher ground in a hurry."

Destructoid: “While Crysis 3 boasts the usual offering of deathmatch and capture-and-hold modes, the Hunter gametype by far stands as its jewel in the crown. This mode pits two nanosuited players against a larger squad of Cell operatives, armed only with their basic weapons and innate wit. Hunters are perpetually cloaked and armed with deadly bows, and any Cell player they eliminate will respawn as a Hunter. The goal for the hunters is to wipe out Cell, while all Cell has to do is survive for the allotted timeframe. While such elimination modes have been present in other games, it's an absolute blast here."

Have you had a chance to play Crysis 3? What do you think?





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Mass Effect 3 DLC Teased In Screens

We've reached the end of all things (for Mass Effect 3). BioWare and Electronic Arts announced the final DLC blast for the 2012 RPG in a press release, with the multiplayer-focused Reckoning set to arrive on February 26, 2013 and the campaign-focused Citadel to follow one week later, on March 5.

Reckoning is yet another free Galaxy At War add-on, bringing an assortment of unspecified "new firepower and character kits" into the co-op survival mode. BioWare will offer a peek at the content on February 25 via its Twitch channel at 9:30am PT. Citadel is a $14.99 / 1,200 MS Points add-on that returns Shepard and his crew to the Citadel for one last hurrah.




BioShock Infinite Season Pass, DLC Plans Detailed

BioShock Infinite fans will have a chance to continue their adventures in the floating city of Columbia thanks to a newly announced BioShock Infinite Season Pass. Irrational Games and 2K Games are planning three DLC drops that "will provide hours of additional gameplay and continue the player’s journey in the sky-city of Columbia with new stories, characters, abilities and weapons."

Remember that BioShock Infinite has no multiplayer or co-op modes, so any add-on content will likely be purely story-driven. Season Pass holders will also receive the Early Bird Special Pack, containing four pieces of exclusive gear, Machine Gun and Pistol damage upgrades, a gold skin for both of those weapons, and five Infusion bottles that offer players the choice between boosting their health, shield, or Salt (used to power Vigors) capacity.

BioShock Infinite launches on March 26, 2013, and the Season Pass will be available that day as well for $19.99 / 1,600 MS Points.


Gears of War Judgment "The Guts of Gears: Multiplayer" Gameplay Trailer »


The prequel campaign in Gears of War: Judgment promises to satisfy longtime fans of the series on the story side, but for many, multiplayer is where the fun really begins. This new, Baird-hosted trailer runs through an assortment of facts and figures covering Judgment's online play, revealing a few tidbits that hadn't been discussed much previously.

Versus, for example, offers Team Deathmatch, Free-For-All, and Domination (think Call of Duty) match types. There's also a peek at the Markza rifle, a new standard loadout weapon for sharpshooters with a medium-range sniper scope and more stopping power than your typical assault rifle. Pass sentence on Gears of War: Judgment yourself when the game arrives on March 19, 2013.

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Murdered: Soul Suspect Teaser Trailer »


Square Enix hasn't even shown Murdered: Soul Suspect publicly yet, but the mystery game now has a release window set for early 2014, the publisher confirms. The game is coming to PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Windows PC platforms, and there's no hint in the press release that it might also be headed to other home consoles, perhaps unannounced home consoles.

The hook in Murdered is that you're trying to solve a murder mystery in which you yourself are the victim. It's not an entirely original idea, but it's a neat one with a lot of potential for cool ideas to emerge. Find out more about the game at its official website, on Twitter, and on Facebook.




Watch Dogs

There's been a flurry of unconfirmed news about Ubisoft's E3 2012 charmer Watch Dogs in recent days, including some indication that the game is coming in fall 2013 and news of a possible Wii U release. First came the release window, via marketing materials that were leaked to Kotaku. They even make reference to my own Watch Dogs preview for G4 from E3 last year.

The promo materials suggest that the game is heading to "all home consoles," a rather vague description when you remember that Ubi previously confirmed plans to release Watch Dogs on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. In related news, newly discovered product listings at GameStop, Amazon, and Best Buy suggest that a Wii U version of the game is coming as well (via All Games Beta).

Ubisoft confirms none of this, though a statement released to Kotaku offers more than your usual "no comment," as you can see right here: "Ubisoft is pleased with the response for Watch Dogs from media and fans. The game is an original IP that has been created from the ground up at Ubisoft Montreal with inspiration from many titles and ideas the studio has worked on throughout the years."





Assassin's Creed 3 "The Tyranny of King Washington: The Infamy" Launch Trailer »


Today sees the release of The Tyranny of King Washington: The Infamy, the first of three episodes in a solo play-focused DLC campaign for Assassin's Creed 3. Ubisoft's alternate history story -- because, you know, that stuff with Connor Kenway is TOTALLY true -- posits that George Washington establishes himself as a monarch in the post-Revolutionary War America.

Two more episodes -- The Betrayal and The Redemption -- will follow on March 19 and April 23, 2013, respectively. They'll be available individually for $9.99 / 800 MS Points or as part of the $29.99 / 2,400 MS Point Season Pass. Get a peek at the first DLC episode in the launch trailer up top.


Halo 4 "Majestic Map Pack" Behind The Scenes Video »


The Majestic DLC pack for Halo 4 will be released on February 25, 2013, Microsoft confirms. This second of three planned War Games Map Packs brings three new multiplayer maps into the game along with two Majestic-specific playlists and a new free-for-all game type, Infinity Rumble (basically, FFA with ordnance drops), that will be exclusive to Majestic "for a limited time."

The Majestic DLC, developed by Certain Affinity, is filled out by small- to mid-sized maps that are all playable in small team and free-for-all modes. Landfall brings the fighting to a war-torn city's port authority, Monolith is an arena-style map set on a wide-open asteroid, and Skyline offers close-quarters rooftop action.

Majestic will be available for 800 MS Points, though those who bought Halo 4's Limited Edition release are entitled to it as a free download, part of their War Games Map Pass. The Map Pass can also be purchased separately, for 2,000 MS Points.

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