Recap: Xbox LIVE Summer of Arcade 2013 Is Over

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The Xbox LIVE Summer of Arcade is over for another year, and thisisxbox.com would like to thank Xbox for reaching out to us and providing all the review codes for this years line-up. If you haven’t yet bought a single title, or perhaps wondering what-if-any should you go for – then here’s a recap of our reviews.

Week One – Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons – Released August 7th 2013.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is an exceptional game that is artistically beautiful and enchanting to play. The adventure takes the player on a journey that will tug at your heart strings in a game that is original and a true experience that will keep you glued to your screens. A game that reiterates quality over quantity could not be a truer word spoken. One of the best Xbox LIVE Arcade games to date for 2013 and a strong start for the Summer of Arcade this year!

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Week Two – Charlie Murder – Released August 14th 2014.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D973mOcYr78

I would say on the whole it is an excruciatingly difficult game to beat on one sitting. However I can confirm how much more fun this game is for co-operative action. It looks as though it was solely built for a great four player experience among friends to enjoy as playing alone with such a difficult quest did prove to feel really repetitive. In the early stages of the game it felt lack-lustre, just button mash and move-on because it’s just a case of messing with the X and Y buttons!

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Week Three – Flashback – Released August 21st 2014.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-m9CBqJNDo

Flashback is an average game that still fits in right at home on the Xbox LIVE Arcade with a decent campaign in length and a set of unlockable VR Console mini-games to keep you pounding away for hours on end (if not days). It is also one of the most exciting Summer of Arcade titles to be released due to the fame of the original; absolute die-hard fans of the classic might feel a little robbed with the change in difficulty settings because there is a lot of hand-holding as a better way of terminology on the easier settings. As a platformer it’s a great remake in the visual sense with varied gameplay difficulties and a bargain at only 800 MS Points – but as a testament to the original, it has been dumbed down considerably and it is going to be far easier than what gamers are going to be anticipating!

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Week Four – TMNT: Out of the Shadows – Released August 28th 2014.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpQ-PyNQR-Q

In Conclusion, TMNT: Out of the Shadows is an OK attempt at adapting the new Ninja Turtles in game form. The fact that it’s only 1.7 GB and 16 people individually put out this much effort into an Arcade game is truly commendable but it doesn’t do anything to make you forget or overlook the annoying bugs and glitches, not to mention the hideous camera views. Let’s give it a 6.5 out of 10 and move on to other things. Pizza anyone?

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On the whole it hasn’t been the Summer of Arcade we were expecting, given that only Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, was the only exceptional game of the lot! Charlie Murder is great as a co-op game, but dull on its own – Flashback is an average platformer in a remade skin, whilst Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles just as well give up and stay beneath the sewers!

Of everything we have played in this years Summer of Arcade, make sure that Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is on your playlist! Going on past history I’d expect to see some reductions on all games in the New Years Xbox LIVE Specials, but you’ll never know until closer to the time.

Have fun, we hope you’ve had a great summer!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows Review

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Last to take centre stage on the Xbox360 #SummerofArcade promotion on the Xbox Live Arcade is TMNT: Out of the Shadows. It’s more than overdue; a decent Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtle game I mean. We’ve had a slew of failed attempts to adapt the TV Show in a respectable and fun manner.  Licensed games have a tough time and recently it seems the only real exception is the Arkham franchise which does considerably well. The recent TMNT games have been mediocre, and although Out of the Shadows is a good game, it’s not by all means great.

If you weren’t already aware, Nickelodeon are the ones currently in charge of the TMNT rebirth and they have done a commendable job of kicking off this new era of the Turtles, introducing these characters in new ways to the younger generation while also being enjoyable for older fans, like me.

The developers of TMNT: Out of the Shadows, Red Fly Studios’ who are likely to be better known for their Wii titles than anything on the Xbox 360, have done an alright job when it comes to both the mobility and animations of the Turtles in this arcade game. It has been created in a way that rewards the player for exploring the environments with their Ninja Skills, thus making it fun to just goof about at your own leisure. It also appears that they’ve worked hard on creating an expansive and immersive combat system that really compliments the Turtles different fighting styles and tactics helping to combat and overcome the repetitive button bashing style system in place. A Stealth mode is included which isn’t anything special, but does give you that ‘ninja’ feel, as it should. A single play through of the game will most likely take you around 12 – 15 hours if you do all the challenges, complete arcade mode and the main campaign. You can finish the main campaign in 4-5 hours if you head online and draw a player between the levels 40-50. Replayability is added via some concept art which can be unlocked by finding comic book strips dotted around the landscape in campaign mode.

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Where the game is lacking is in its attention to detail and the overall presentation. It feels unpolished, clunky, and there are some really bad camera angles and positioning that will be sure to annoy even the most patient of gamers. I know, I know it’s an Arcade title created by a team of only 16, but that’s not my problem as the player. My problem is how I can’t see what I am supposed to be doing half the time due to a camera that likes to zoom in on my head and not the surrounding area and Foot Clan bad guys trying to get me. There are frequent glitches too such as floating enemies and weapons (nothing game breaking but still…it is unnecessary) and sometimes the animations can feel stiff. One of the confusing elements to the game is the comic book style cut-scenes because the graphics in the game itself are actually quite good, so using the comic-book-esque cut-scenes seems odd, if not lazy in comparison. The game does however nail the art style and feel of the new Nickelodeon Cartoon and puts you right into the action. It seems pretty obvious that the game is only developed to appeal to new fans of the animated series, whilst hoping that older fans will likely buy for nostalgic reasons.

There are also a lot of extras bundled in with TMNT: Out of the Shadows – and it does make you question why other developers and publishers can’t bundle as much in with their titles too. You get to enjoy not just the single player campaign, but 4 player local or online coop, an arcade mini game across 7 levels, unlockable concept art, upgradeable individual skills, team skills and weapons as well as additional fine touches like a Dojo for training in.

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The amount of nods and homages to previous incarnations and to the newest TV show will give TMNT fans plenty to be happy about. The banter between the Turtles is brilliantly done and it is clear that here the developers did their homework. Arcade Mode acts like a whole different game and is in my opinion more fun than the campaign; it also doesn’t glitch out and makes me feel all nostalgic.

In Conclusion, TMNT: Out of the Shadows is an OK attempt at adapting the new Ninja Turtles in game form. The fact that it’s only 1.7 GB and 16 people individually put out this much effort into an Arcade game is truly commendable but it doesn’t do anything to make you forget or overlook the annoying bugs and glitches, not to mention the hideous camera views.

Let’s give it a 6.5 out of 10 and move on to other things. Pizza anyone?

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpQ-PyNQR-Q

Gary Neville Signs For EA Sports

Electronic Arts Inc. has today announced that Gary Neville joins EA SPORTS in a FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) ambassadorial role for the 2013/14 season.

Neville’s role will see him contribute a regular bi-weekly column hosted on www.easports.com/uk/fifa – utilising his insightful and deep understanding of the game, he will be looking at the Premier League in-form players and teams as well as discussing the hot topics surrounding the world’s most exciting league.

He will be available alongside some of the world’s greatest players including Pelé, Marco van Basten, Lothar Matthäus, Dennis Bergkamp, Gary Lineker and 33 other past masters of the game.

FIFA 14 Ultimate Team Legends is exclusive to Xbox 360 and Xbox One, and follows on from the news that pre-ordered Day One Editions of Xbox One will come with a free digital copy of Fifa 14.  Speaking of his new role with EA, Neville said:

“It’s great to be working with the team at EA SPORTS. FIFA has become such an integral part of football culture that I hope to bring benefit to the fans. FUT really is a phenomenal success and you can see why as we all like to think we can manage an Ultimate Team of superstars, I can’t wait to see myself out on the pitch again (Virtually anyway).”

Xbox Reward Scheme Relaunched

Last week saw a dashboard update finally remove the traditional MSP system from Xbox LIVE and replaced it with the Microsoft Account, allowing users across all Xbox and Windows 8 platforms to use local currency.

Following yesterdays official renaming of the Xbox Marketplace to the Microsoft Store, today the Xbox Rewards system has been relaunched at http://rewards.xbox.com/

Reflecting on the multi entertainment use of the Xbox platform, the new look Rewards programme is being refocused to show this:

“Xbox Live Rewards is all about YOU. That’s why we designed the programme with you in mind.Whether you’re an avid gamer with an ever-growing Gamerscore, or a film buff who lives and breathes Xbox Video, we reward you for doing what you love. And the more you do, the more you get.”

Credits can now be earned through using the Xbox to play games, watch TV and movies or listening to Music. The punch card system, which was introduced just before MSP was removed, has been kept, as Microsoft wants to reward it’s Xbox users for using its services.

“With Xbox Live Rewards, it’s easy to get rewarded for being loyal to Xbox Live. From renewing your Xbox Live Gold membership (3,000 Rewards Credits), to building your Gamerscore (up to 3% rebate on Xbox Store purchases), to taking monthly surveys (250 Credits), the rewards are as real as the fun.”

For more information on the new look Rewards Scheme please see the FAQ here – http://rewards.xbox.com/faq/

Xbox One “Late November” Launch Outed By PepsiCo

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PepsiCo has partnered with Microsoft to give away thousands of Xbox One consoles later this year through Mountain Dew and Dorito’s competitions, but in the Terms and Conditions of the prize draws it has inadvertently outed the Xbox One launch window as specific as “Late November” in the United States at least.

The exact quotes from Every2minutes.com (the official prize website):

Prizes won in the Sweepstakes and awarded by Auction will be shipped generally within 8-10 weeks from notification. Xbox One has targeted launch date of late November 2013; therefore, the initial shipments may be slightly delayed; please allow 12- 14 weeks for delivery.

If Microsoft are planning a “late November” launch in the US, it could be November 22nd which coincides with the Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs release date, a planned launch title for the Xbox One. This would put the US release a week later than Sony’s PlayStation 4 launch on November 15th stateside. If history repeats itself, a late November release could mean an early December release for the United Kingdom and Europe as per the original Xbox 360 launch. This also is in line with making sure that it catches the November payroll for the last wages before Christmas!

Or it could just release on November 22nd in every one of the intended launch countries. When Microsoft reveal the official launch date, we’ll keep you posted!

Spotted via NeoGaf

Call of Duty: Ghosts Double XP Weekend Announced

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To celebrate the launch of Call of Duty: Ghosts, Activision and Infinity Ward will make it a Double XP launch weekend on Xbox LIVE from November 8th to November 11th 2013. An email confirming the news was sent out this evening quoting:

The brand-new Call of Duty: Ghosts multiplayer map Free Fall drops you into a ruined skyscraper that continues to fall throughout the match, changing the map in real-time with every drop. And even better, to celebrate the release of Call of Duty: Ghosts, we’re turning on Double XP on Launch Weekend from Friday, November 8 through Monday, November 11!

A lot of emphasis has been put on Ghosts’ Free Fall bonus map for those who pre-order or included with the Hardened and Prestige Editions of the game. Free Fall has been described as a close-quarters combat map where a ruined skyscraper continues to fall throughout the entire match! With every drop, the accompanying shockwaves cause further destruction, disrupting sightlines and constantly evolving paths and chokepoints as the map changes in real-time.

If that sounds exciting, you can only imagine all the other maps!

What are you waiting for – go – pre-order!!

Lightning Returns – Final Fantasy XIII – Making of Video

Square Enix have released a making of video for Final Fantasy XII : Lightning Returns, giving fans a look into what goes into creating and developing a modern Final Fantasy game.

The first of a three part video series, fans for the first time will have a never before seen chance to peek behind the developer curtains with the creative team sharing their thoughts on its development and their inspirations for the game.

Xbox LIVE Marketplace Is Now Xbox Games Store

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Not only has the Microsoft Points vanished into thin air as one of the worst pricing solutions that just could not be carried over into the new generation Xbox LIVE, but now the Xbox LIVE Marketplace has walked off ‘n’ all…

Now simply known as the Xbox Games Store Microsoft had this to say to Joystiq on the matter:

That’s right, [Xbox Live Marketplace] is now called the Xbox Games Store, and will sit alongside the Xbox Music Store and Xbox Video Store. This is to make it easier for consumers to find content both on Xbox 360 today and Xbox One when it launches in November.

Although we haven’t perused our beady little eyes over the dashboard yet, nothing else out of the ordinary has been tidied up for a pre-Xbox-One launch. Expect us to refer to almost everything now as being on the Xbox Games Store!

Assassin’s Creed IV – Actors of Black Flag Video

The video above is another to showcase the amazing efforts plunged into Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag where Pirates rule the Caribbean and have established their own lawless Republic where corruption, greediness and cruelty are commonplace.

Among these outlaws is a brash young captain named Edward Kenway. His fight for glory has earned him the respect of legends like Blackbeard, but also drawn him into the ancient war between Assassins and Templars, a war that may destroy everything the pirates have built.

Welcome to the Golden Age of Piracy… AC4: Black Flag is due for release on Xbox 360 and Xbox One this Fall.